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Egyptian power lines break down, worsening electricity crisis in Gaza

April 25, 2017 10:53 A.M. (Updated: April 25, 2017 6:44 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- All Egyptian electricity lines feeding the southern Gaza Strip broke down Monday evening, Gaza's electricity company said, creating further shortages for the besieged Palestinian territory, which has already been suffering from severe electricity crises.

Before the latest failure in the Egyptian lines, Gaza’s electricity company had been struggling to provide residents with power, with recent damages temporarily reducing supplies to four hours a day.

When operational, Egyptian lines provide the southern Gaza Strip with 23 megawatts of electricity, nearly 15 percent of coastal enclave's electricity supply, according to the electricity company.

The Gaza Strip's sole power plant has been shut down since April 16, after fuel supplied by Qatar and Turkey ran out.

The electricity crisis has deepened an already longstanding political feud between Hamas, the de facto leading party of Gaza, and the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA), as Gaza’s electricity company has maintained that the taxes on fuel imposed by the PA have made it impossible for the company to buy enough fuel to keep the power plant in operation.

The plant shutdown has reduced power supply to residents to just six hours of electricity followed by a 12-hour blackouts, compared to the typical schedule of eight consecutive hours of electricity followed by eight without.

Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza's sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy need.

The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel's crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave.

The enclave's severe electricity shortages over the years have exacerbated the already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

War has also taken its toll, and during Israel's 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel's blockade.
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