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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Gaza power plant shuts down again, and no one can explain why

From AFP:
Gaza's sole power station shut down again on Wednesday after running out of fuel, a source at the plant told AFP, as the territory's energy crisis deepened.

"The electricity plant has stopped work because of a lack of fuel," the source said.

The plant has stopped working several times this year as the Gaza Strip lives through its worst-ever energy crisis which has been brought on by a drop in fuel supplies from neighbouring Egypt.

On Wednesday, a delivery of 30 million litres of Qatari fuel was to have entered the Hamas-run Gaza Strip from Egypt, after being transported through Egypt's Al-Awja crossing into southern Israel, then into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Raed Futuh, an official at Kerem Shalom said the delivery had been delayed for the fourth time in three weeks, citing "technical issues."

Last month, Israel gave the green light for the fuel to be transferred through its territory after receiving a request from the Egyptians, an Israeli security official said.
This doesn't add up.

Israel continues to supply, every day, roughly the same amount of fuel it has supplied since April when the PA agreed to pay for Israel to send fuel through Kerem Shalom. Nothing has changed. Yesterday over 270,000 liters were sent through. If the PA would pay more, Israel would supply more. And Gaza's power plant, while not at close to full capacity, has been running fine since then with only a few unexplained glitches.

Since Hamas has a history of manipulating supplies of vital goods to Gaza in order to score political points, it seems plausible that Hamas is trying to pressure Egypt to allow the Qatari fuel to get to the sector sooner rather than later.

(I'm cynical enough to wonder if Egypt is siphoning off some of that fuel to stave off its own impending fuel crisis.)