Gaza Restarts Power Station As Egypt Fuel Eases Crisis

The Gaza Strip’s sole power station has been fired up again, the energy authority in the Palestinian enclave said Thursday, after fuel supplies from Egypt helped to ease an energy crisis.

The announcement came after Egypt delivered a million litres of fuel to the station on Wednesday, three days after Israel began cutting electricity supplies to Gaza.

The energy authority said two of the four generators at the power station had resumed operations and residents would now receive around six hours of mains power a day — up from as little as two earlier in the week.

The power plant, damaged by successive wars, was shut down in April after running out of fuel following a row between Gaza rulers Hamas and the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority over taxes.

Islamists Hamas seized control of Gaza from president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement in a near civil war in 2007 and multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed.

However, the Palestinian Authority had continued to pay Israel for some electricity delivered to Gaza until this month, with Abbas indicating they would no longer do so — — prompting the Israeli reductions.

Israel had been supplying 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza a month, making up about a quarter of the territory’s needs, but announced it would cease to do so this week.

Hamas official Basem Naim said the electricity supplied by the power plant was just enough to balance out the reduction.

He told AFP the Egyptian delivery was an “important step,” obtained after a meeting between Egyptian leaders, Hamas and Abbas’ great rival Mohammed Dahlan — in exile in the United Arab Emirates after a dispute with Abbas.

“We must now find a definitive solution to the electricity crisis because its impact is catastrophic,” said Naim.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday accused Abbas of seeking to spark a fresh conflict by increasing human suffering in Gaza.

He said Abbas’ “intention is actually to continue cuts and in a few months to stop paying for fuel, medicines, salaries and many other things.”

“In my opinion the strategy is to hurt Hamas and also to drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel.”

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