Small amounts of Israeli fuel reaching Gaza (AP) Associated Press) By IBRAHIM BARZAK GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip 03/23/12 8:15 am ET)
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Small amounts of Israeli fuel were trucked
into the Gaza Strip on Friday, slightly easing an energy crisis
provoked by a cut-off of Egyptian fuel, Palestinian and Israeli
The shipment however did not meet Gaza´s total energy needs for even
one day, one official said, and the territory still lacks a reliable
fuel supply. Gaza´s fuel pinch highlights the difficulties its cash-
strapped, internationally isolated Hamas rulers face in administering
Brig. Gen. Nazmi Muhana, head of the Palestinian Authority border
agency in the West Bank, and Israeli military spokesman Maj. Guy
Inbar said 450,000 liters (120,000 gallons) of diesel fuel entered
through an Israeli crossing.
Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmia said the supplies were enough
to power the territory´s only electricity plant for a single day.
"This is no solution," Abu Salmia said, noting that no fuel had
arrived to power cars, trucks or hospitals´ backup generators.
Ambulance and fire services were still facing severe gas shortages,
The fuel was purchased from Israel by the West Bank-based Palestinian
Authority, which claims control of Gaza but in effect has had no
influence there since Hamas militants overran the territory in 2007.
Israel and Hamas shun each other, but the Palestinian Authority,
which is governed by President Mahmoud Abbas, maintains ties with the
For weeks, Gaza´s 1.6 million people have endured 18-hour-a-day
blackouts because of tensions between Hamas and Egypt, for the past
year or so the sole source of the territory´s fuel.
More than a year ago, Hamas decided to power Gaza´s only power plant
with smuggled fuel from Egypt, rather than pay the Palestinian
Authority for more expensive Israeli fuel, as it had done in the
past. But Egypt started cutting off the supplies weeks ago because it
was suffering shortages itself.
More deeply, however, the energy spat reflects Egypt´s troubled
relationship with Hamas and its long-standing deep ambivalence toward
Hamas had hoped to leverage the crisis into getting Egypt to open a
direct trade route with Gaza, with the aim of stabilizing its rule
over the territory.
But Egypt refused, wanting to keep Gaza at arms´ length, and to avoid
absolving Israel from continuing responsibility for the crowded,
impoverished slice of Mediterranean coast.
Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, after a 38-
year military occupation, but still controls access by air and sea —
and, except for a kilometers-long (miles-long) border with Egypt, by
Inbar said the Palestinian Authority contracted with Israeli energy
company Dor Alon to supply the fuel, and asked Israel to coordinate
Although the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing between Israel and Gaza
ordinarily is closed on Friday, Israel made an exception and opened
it "because of the grave situation in Gaza," Inbar said.
Hamas staged protests Friday that drew tens of thousands of people
across Gaza to urge Egypt to let the flow of its fuel resume.
"We call on our brothers in Egypt ... to extend their hand to their
brothers in Gaza and to supply Gaza with fuel and to open the border
with Gaza," said Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri at the protest in
the northern Gaza town of Jebaliyah. (© 2012 The Associated Press
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