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Gaza's only power plant shut over fuel shortage

Closure to exacerbate already critical power shortage

By AFP - Feb 15,2018 - Last updated at Feb 15,2018

A Palestinian youth walks back from the Gaza Strip's sole electricity plant, which provides a fifth of the embattled region's power needs, on Thursday, after it stopped working at midnight the previous night due to lack of fuel as per local officials (AFP photo)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The sole electricity plant in the Gaza Strip stopped working on Thursday because of a lack of fuel, officials said, as concerns grew over worsening humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

The closure of the plant, which normally provides around a fifth of Gaza's electricity, will exacerbate an already critical power shortage.

Gaza's 2 million residents receive only around four hours of electricity a day.

Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for Gaza's energy distribution company, said it had been informed by the energy authority the power station stopped functioning at midnight because of the lack of fuel.

Usually the plant provides around 20 megawatts per day using fuel imported from Egypt, but now the only energy is the roughly 120 megawatts of electricity imported from Israel.

"The Gaza Strip needs around 500 megawatts [per day]. We have an energy deficit of 380 megawatts," Thabet said.

The distribution company called in a statement for rapid moves to provide fuel to the plant again.

Last week, the United Arab Emirates provided financing for fuel for generators at hospitals and other key facilities. Three hospitals and 16 medical centres had stopped offering key services in recent weeks because of the crippling fuel shortages.

The power station has temporarily shut down a number of times in recent years over energy shortages.

It was hit by Israel in previous wars with Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Palestinian territory.

Israel has maintained a blockade on the strip for a decade, saying it is necessary to isolate Hamas, and Egypt has also largely closed its border in recent years.

 

The internationally recognised Palestinian government, based in the West Bank, has also sought to squeeze rivals Hamas.

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