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15 Mar, 2014 12:54

Gaza’s only power station forced to shut down over fuel shortage

Gaza’s only power station forced to shut down over fuel shortage

Gaza is bracing for a “humanitarian crisis” after its only power station was shut down due to a lack of fuel from Israel. The Israeli government closed the Kerem Shalom crossing this week, effectively severing the fuel supply to Gaza.

In the wake of a number of rocket attacks on Israeli territory on Wednesday, the Israeli government closed all borders with Gaza and suspended the delivery of all commercial goods to the region. As a consequence of the sanctions, Gaza’s only power station ran out of fuel Saturday.

"The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel's) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement to AFP.

The Gaza power plant provides about a third of Gaza’s electricity needs, while the rest of the territory's energy is provided by Egypt and Israel.

Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told Turkish news agency Anadolu that the lack of fuel would lead to electricity being cut off 16 hours a day in Gaza.

"Gaza is bracing for a humanitarian catastrophe if the crossing remains closed," said Khalil, who has urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to open up the Kerem Shalon border crossing.

This is not the first instance when Gaza’s power plant was forced to shut down. A couple of months ago the plant had to be turned off after Egypt blocked a number of smuggling tunnels on its border with Gaza which were used to bring in fuel.

Israel eventually allowed the entry of 450,000 liters of fuel, paid for by the Qatari government, so that the Palestinians could restart their power plant.