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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Gaza faces imminent power outage as sole power plant runs out of fuel


Qatari fuel supply stopped pumping diesel to Gaza’s only power plant since November 2. 

Gaza is at risk of a power outage triggered by a lack of fuel supply to the besieged enclave, according to its Energy and Natural Resources Authority.

Israeli restrictions have limited the entry of Qatari fuel to the Strip to supply its sole power plant since 2 November, meaning a power outage could strike as early as Sunday.

“The Qatari fuel supply to the Gaza power station has stopped since Nov. 2,” the energy authority noted in a statement, calling for “urgent intervention to allow entry of diesel” to avoid a power crisis. 

It said that a suspension of the power plant’s operation “means that the percentage of the power supply deficit will reach about 70 percent.”

In July, Israeli authorities reportedly prevented the entry of 25 trucks carrying Qatar-funded fuel into the Gaza Strip’s only power plant, Spokesman for the Ministry of National Economy in Gaza Abdel Fattah Abu Musa told Al-Aqsa Voice radio. 

“The occupation’s decision to prevent the entry of fuel to the only power plant in Gaza is an intensification of the siege,” said Abu Musa, describing this as a “war crime.”

Read also: Qatar begins distributing financial aid to families in Gaza

However, there were “promises to resume the entry” of the trucks days after the suspension through the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, Director General of Trade and Crossings at the Ministry of Economy in Gaza Rami Abu Al-Rish had previously said. 

In June, Qatar-funded fuel entered the Gaza Strip to power the city’s only electricity station for the first time since the May ceasefire. This was under a UN framework per an agreement between the UNOPS [United Nations Office for Project Services] and Doha.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Israeli defence ministry official claimed at the time that the fuel trucks were stopped due to failure by a Palestinian Authority’s body in charge of coordinating with Tel Aviv to inform the Israelis of the entry.

The official demanded the Palestinians to “properly coordinate” with the occupying authorities in order to allow the fuel to enter the besieged enclave. 

This claim was later dismissed by two Palestinian officials in Gaza, who said they were not informed about such issues and denied responsibility of overseeing the entry of the fuel into the city as the coordination remains between Qatar, the UN and Israel.

Qatari fuel to Gaza 

The Gulf state has been providing Gaza with financial aid over the years that involves pumping fuel into the enclave’s only power supply. 

According to the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, Qatar has allocated around $10 million to fuel Gaza’s power station each month.

Gaza has been suffering from an illegal Israeli embargo since 2006, which has placed over two million Palestinians under harsh conditions that were further exacerbated during the latest May offensive.

The illegal Israeli blockade has deprived Palestinians of essential commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

The Gaza Strip already suffers a severe electricity shortage. According to an annual report issued by the power plant in 2020, it produces only 140 megawatts while it needs around 500 megawatts. 

In February, Qatar confirmed plans to establish a natural gas pipeline to double Gaza’s daily electricity supply, increasing electric power to 400 megawatts— around twice the current amount.

Israel and Egypt have held Gaza under a 16-year siege.

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