Egypt ´promises fuel´ for Gaza power plant (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 02/18/12)
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Egypt has promised to provide diesel fuel for the Gaza Strip´s sole
power plant, which shut down this week after running out of fuel, a
Gaza official said on Saturday.
"Following our contacts with Egyptian officials, there have been
serious promises to furnish us fuel from tomorrow (Sunday)," said
Ahmad Abu al-Amrin of the Gaza energy authority.
To highlight the sense of urgency, dozens of Palestinian medical
personnel held a sit-in at Gaza´s Rafah crossing into Egypt, urging
Cairo´s immediate intervention.
The power plant, which supplies around a third of Gaza´s electricity,
suffers frequent outages, leading to daily blackouts across the Hamas-
When it went down on Tuesday, Amrin said he had called on Egypt "to
assume its historical responsibility in supporting the resistance of
the Palestinian people by ensuring they had all the necessary fuel to
operate the plant."
According to the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, the amount
of fuel being transported through tunnels from Egypt to Gaza has
dropped by half over the past fortnight, reportedly due to increased
restrictions on the movement of fuel by Egyptian police.
Gaza´s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya also urged Egypt to help,
issuing a statement calling on Cairo to "immediately intervene and
meet all the electricity needs of Gaza in a permanent way," warning
that the territory was facing a "real humanitarian crisis."
Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qader told AFP the power cuts
were endangering the lives of hospital patients, particularly those
on dialysis, coronary support and in intensive care.
At Saturday´s sit-in, the medical personnel issued a statement urging
Egypt, "in the name of all patients, to assume your responsibilities
and respond to our call for aid."
Oxfam warned that the diminished fuel supplies to Gaza were "inching"
it "towards a total collapse of essential services," and said that
only an end to the blockade on the Hamas-run territory would solve
its electricity´s shortage. "What we are witnessing now with the fuel
crisis in Gaza proves that the tunnels are not a sustainable solution
to the blockade," regional director of the British charity Catherine
Essoyan said in a statement.
"If we want to solve the electricity crisis once and for all we need
a full and consistent opening of all of Gaza?s crossings in
accordance with international law."
Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 following the
capture of one of its soldiers in June that year.
The blockade was tightened a year later after Hamas´s forcible
takeover of the territory, and Israel began restricting the amounts
of fuel allowed through the crossings.
In a bid to prevent the impending humanitarian crisis, General Eitan
Dangot, head of COGAT -- the Israeli military body in charge of
civilian aspects of life in the Israeli controlled parts of the West
Bank -- has in recent days offered senior officials in the
Palestinian Authority fuel that they would transfer to Gaza, COGAT
spokesman Guy Inbar told AFP.
According to Inbar, the Palestinian officials declined the offer.
(Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 02/18/12)
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