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Hamas rejects Egyptian offer to transfer fuel (JERUSALEM POST) By BLOOMBERG AND JPOST.COM STAFF 02/19/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=258366 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Hamas authorities on Saturday rejected an Egyptian proposal to bring in fuel via an Israeli crossing point to reactivate Gaza’s only power plant, which shut down four days ago when diesel supplies were disrupted.

“This is unacceptable because of our bitter experience with the Zionist occupation (Israel) and the way it controls the delivery of the shipments,” Ahmed Abu Al-Amreen of Gaza´s Hamas-run Energy Authority, told reporters.

Earlier Saturday, Egypt´s parliamentary industry and energy committee announced that Cairo had agreed to provide fuel for the Gaza Strip´s lone power plant, after fuel shortages and a dispute with smugglers forced the plant´s shutdown and caused rolling blackouts.

Abu Al-Amreen said that Hamas proposed bringing the Egyptian fuel via Rafah or direct underground pipelines.

Fuel shortages in Egypt had prompted smugglers to demand prices higher than Gazans were ready to pay, according to Ma´an.

AFP reported that Egyptian authorities had upped their crackdown on the smuggling of fuel to the Strip, which relies on its own power plant for up to a third of energy in the coastal enclave. That power plant experiences regular blackouts as fuel deliveries to Gaza are reliant on smugglers and are restricted by an Israeli sea blockade and land import restrictions.

Last week, energy authorities in Gaza announced that could only provide families with up to six hours of power at a time, according to Al Jazeera.

"Only half of the amount of fuel that entered in the previous weeks has been coming into Gaza for the past two weeks," the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, said last Tuesday according to AFP.

The UN organization said that Israel´s blockade on Gaza, which began in 2006 following the Hamas takeover of the Strip, forced smugglers and Gazans to develop a tunnel system through which to transfer fuel.

"Palestinians gradually developed tunnel infrastructure allowing the transfer of large quantities of fuel into Gaza, at a cheaper price, which resulted in an almost complete halt in the purchase from Israel," the OCHA said according to AFP.

Gaza is seeking to join an interstate energy grid that includes seven other Arab countries, but has said that the deal rests upon approval from the PLO. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 02/19/12)

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