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Gaza in blackout as Israeli blockade continues

9 April 2010 12:33

The only power plant in the blockaded Gaza Strip has shut down as a crippling Israeli closure keeps the impoverished region stripped of much needed fuel.

The facility was forces to close on Friday, following a week of limited fuel imports and Israeli authorities’ refusal to open any border-crossings.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh confirmed the closure of all crossings and that they were expected to remain closed for Saturday as well.

That would mean the populated enclave will dip in a blackout for the next three days until fuel supplies are allowed and transported to the power plant.

Vice President of the Palestinian Energy Authority Kanaan Ubeid said all of the four generators at the facility had ceased to function as fuel supplies had reduced from 2,200 units per day to 750 units. “This is not enough to run even one generator on,” Ubeid said.

Gaza’s sole power plant has been grappled with fuel shortages since December, when European officials handed over responsibility for fuel transfers to the Palestinian Authority upon a request by Ramallah that the aid from the European Union be channeled into civil servant salaries.

Ubeid blamed the transfer and corresponding closure of the main fuel transfer terminal at Nahal Oz for the shortages, saying imports have fallen by half ever since.

The Gaza Strip has been under a paralyzing Israeli siege since 2007 when the democratically elected Hamas-led Palestinian government had to limit its rule to the coastal sliver, while the Western-backed Fatah mounted its own government in the West Bank.

Israel maintained the blockade during and after its devastating military offensive on the Gaza Strip which left more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed and thousands of others injured.

Three weeks of relentless aerial bombardments and ground incursions devastated much of the region’s infrastructure and leveled scores of residential and office buildings.

Gaza still lies in ruin as Israel prevents the delivery of the materials needed for the reconstruction into the Palestinian territory.

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