Friday, 23 March 2012

Israel allows limited amount of fuel to enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - Some 450,000 litres of fuel were delivered to the crisis-hit Gaza Strip early on Friday through Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

An Israeli military official confirmed that the Kerem Shalom terminal had opened at 7:30am (0530 GMT), to allow 450,000 litres of fuel to be transferred into the Hamas-run territory.

"450,000 litres of fuel are being delivered to Gaza today," said Guy Inbar, a spokesman for COGAT, the military division in charge of coordinating access to and from Gaza.

And a source within Gaza's government said that 13 tankers, "each with a capacity of 45,000 litres," were at the border crossing.

The delivery was made just hours after Egyptian officials reached an agreement with Israel to permit the transfer of fuel to enable Gaza's sole power plant to function.

"Thanks to efforts by Egypt, in coordination with Hamas, prime minister Salam Fayyad and due to a decision by president Mahmud Abbas, an agreement was reached to resume the supply of diesel, via Israel, to Gaza's power plant through the Kerem Shalom terminal," a senior Egyptian official said overnight.

The agreement with Israel was to involve the delivery of 900,000 litres of fuel, he said. It was not immediately clear when the second delivery would be made.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Islamist movement had been informed by Egypt about the impending delivery, and was ""pursuing efforts to find a permanent solution to this crisis." He did not mention Israel's involvement.

Last week, Gaza's energy authority said it had paid Egypt $2 million towards fuel for its crippled power station, but had yet to receive anything in return.

Gaza is experiencing a major electricity crisis because of a shortage of fuel for the power plant. more

Official: Gaza hospitals running on less than 20-percent power capacity - only 4 days of fuel left

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The health ministry in Gaza says it is running on less than 20 percent of electricity, and the remaining amounts are enough for only another four days of power.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the ministry, said around 70 ambulances will stop working if there is no fuel in the next few days, adding that 15 health service cars and 18 ambulances were already offline.

The ministry raised the alarm on Thursday as officials with the electricity authority and fuel crisis management team met to discuss the situation amid the enclave's ongoing crisis.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are suffering a crisis of dry petrol pumps and frequent blackouts triggered by a fuel supply dispute between Egypt and the enclave's Hamas rulers. more