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Israel to ease fuel blockade on Gaza amidst state of emergency
Published Saturday 14/12/2013 (updated) 16/12/2013 11:27
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(MaanImages/file)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel will allow the import of 450,000 liters of industrial diesel to Gaza on Sunday morning in order to allow the Strip's sole power plant to begin working again as part of a larger plan to temporarily ease the blockade, an official told Ma'an on Saturday evening.

President of the committee for the import of goods Raed Fattouh confirmed the planned entry of approximately 450,000 liters of industrial diesel on Sunday intended for use at the power station, which has been shut down for lack of fuel since November.

Fattouh told Ma'an that the import comes amidst a major deal that would facilitate the extension of working hours at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza for the next week.

Fattouh said that the step is "the first of its kind" and will extend working hours at the Kerem Shalom crossing for up to 12 hours a day for the next week, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The decision was made to allow the import of of aid and fuel for the residents of the Gaza Strip after the devastation caused by inclement weather to property and agricultural land over the last few days.

The decision comes hours after an UNRWA spokesperson called large swathes of Gaza a "disaster area," and called for the end of the crippling blockade on the coastal enclave.

"A community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this," UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said earlier on Saturday.

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of November, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip's electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.
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1 ) Mel / USA
14/12/2013 22:05
It's Israel cruel,ethnic-punishment BLOCKADE & constant terrorizing &persecution of Gaza from land,sea & air,that CAUSED THE CRISIS,by destroying Gaza's infrastructure,in the first place! The heavy rain is after the fact & merely ADDS to the constant Israeli punishment of 1.8 MILLION civilians in Gaza.What you going to do? Thank the Nazi's for a few dry bread-crumbs AFTER millions of Jews are already dead? END Israel's occupation,blockade,black-market profiteering from human pain & suffering.

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
14/12/2013 23:14
More questionable "facts" from Maan. Lots of talk about the so-called "Israeli blockade" but not a single mention of Hamas - which rejects peace and refuses to negotiate with Israel. Lots of blame for everybody else: Israel, Egypt, Fatah. But not a single mention of Hamas. Is Maan trying to cozy up to Haniyeh and his thugs in order to keep their reopened Gaza bureau from being shut down again? Is Maan capitulation to hamas demands the price for keeping their office open?

3 ) southparkbear / usa
14/12/2013 23:33
sometimes i wonder why? so they can dry faster the rockets to be used on israel cities?

4 ) Eldad / USA
15/12/2013 01:38
Israel ALWAYS allowed fuel into Gaza (at least since 2009.) The problem is that no one wanted to pay for it until today.

5 ) Ilyas / Uk
15/12/2013 02:16
Wow. Israel has created this state of emergency in gaza. The rights of people on gaza have been violated Again and again. Thus easing is not enough only a complete cessation of the blockage will be suffice. Israel has no right to prevent shipments to gaza of any kind.

6 ) Bemused / New Zealand
15/12/2013 04:15
Not good enough, Israel - LIFT THE ENTIRE ILLEGAL SIEGE.

7 ) southparkbear / usa
15/12/2013 04:29
):, really ):

8 ) Tobias / USA
15/12/2013 05:54
If their situations were reversed, - Gaza would be INVADING, - RATHER THAN AIDING Israel, so Israel should stop aiding enemies !!

9 ) Dimi / Germany
15/12/2013 09:52
Let us imagine the situation would be reversed, would Hamas allow more fuel to help Israelis overcomming the situation?

10 ) Hetty / The Netherlands
15/12/2013 12:56
"Israel allows" . Wrong from the first words. Wrong in blockade: it's collective punishment: it's against the universal human rights but who cares? Wrong is the occupation and daily humiliation of a people. The victim has become a victimizer!

11 ) Outsider / EU
15/12/2013 16:11
2) A little detail: didn't Hamas and the Israeli cabinet negotiate for the release of Gilad Shalit? What indication do you have that Israel is willing to negotiate with Hamas for anything else? 7) & 8) Yes, let's punish people for things they have not done. That sounds reasonable /s

12 ) southparkbear / usa
17/12/2013 14:38
hum #11. let me see. .... hamas ran a campaign to wipe out the state of israel, to drive its citizens to the sea and more. 82% of gaza votters elected hamas. assume they don't read they could still hear it on the radio and every mosque 3 times a day. so they ar every few innocent there
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