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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hamas says it will get Egyptian fuel through Rafah

From Ma'an:

Gaza's energy authority on Monday announced an agreement with Egypt to import fuel via the Rafah crossing to ease the power crisis.

The Hamas-run authority said Egypt's General Petroleum Authority would initially deliver diesel meant for cars through the terminal until industrial diesel could be transferred.

Pipes, pumps and tanks to receive the fuel will be prepared Tuesday morning, the Gaza authority said in a statement.

The announcement follows weeks of critical power shortages in the Gaza Strip. Since Egypt shut off fuel deliveries via underground tunnels in February, Gaza's power plant has shut down twice and the 1.7 million residents of the coastal strip face up to 18-hour blackouts each day.

Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday blamed Cairo for the outages and said Egypt controlled the flow of fuel into the enclave.

Egypt had told Hamas that in future it should import its oil through legal channels -- namely the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom border crossing.

But Haniyeh said he would not import fuel from Israel, which would be more expensive and vulnerable to Israeli sanctions.

"If someone fired a bullet three kilometers away from Kerem Shalom, the Israelis would close the crossing and prevent the entry of fuel," Haniyeh said.
I don't recall any security-related closings of Kerem Shalom although that happened frequently with other crossings when terrorists shot rockets at them. Perhaps they haven't attacked Kerem Shalom for fear that the rocket might hit Egyptian territory, which is just west of Kerem Shalom.

Kerem Shalom has closed for holidays and maintenance. But then again, so has Rafah - for Egyptian holidays, because of computer problems, and because of Palestinian Arab disturbances. Haniyeh doesn't seem to worry about capricious Egyptian closures of Rafah.