Gaza electricity plant shuts down again
The Gaza Strip's sole power plant has shut down for the second time in two weeks on shortage of fuel, despite a deal with Egypt, the territory's energy authority said Tuesday. The plant, which supplies close to a third of the electricity in Gaza, shut down on February 14 because of an apparent interruption in the supply of fuel to the territory, before restarting operations partially on February 21.
"The only electricity plant in the Gaza Strip has stopped operations for the second time in two weeks because of the depletion of the limited fuel deliveries that we used for the last few days," the Energy Authority said in a statement. The authority stressed to Egypt: "the need to accelerate the provision of fuel to Gaza via official means and in a quantity sufficient to operate the electricity plant, guaranteeing its operation and alleviating the suffering of Palestinian citizens".
Last Thursday, Hamas announced it had reached a "comprehensive agreement" with Egypt to permanently end the electricity crisis in Gaza, in a three-stage deal that would include increased fuel and electricity deliveries. Under the accord, the group said, Egyptian companies would begin immediately supplying fuel directly to Gaza, the Islamic Development Bank would fund an upgrade of the electricity plant, and Gaza's electrical grid would eventually be hooked up to Egypt.
Before the deal was announced, Egypt had already said it would provide an extra 22 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip. Gaza has long suffered outages because of shortages at its power plant, which has a maximum capacity of 140 megawatts but for some years has only been able to generate around half of that when operational.
In recent weeks the situation has worsened because of the shortage of fuel, most of which is smuggled through cross-border tunnels from Egypt.