Gaza power plant functioning as normal after Israel reopens border
Published Sunday 29/12/2013 (updated) 30/12/2013 15:31
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza's sole power plant began to function as normal after Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday, allowing shipments of diesel fuel to enter the Strip, a Palestinian source said.
Raed Fattough, who coordinates the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, told Ma'an that shipments of diesel and gasoline entered Gaza early Sunday, after which the power plant began running on the basis of eight hours on, eight hours off.
Israel also allowed seven truckloads of strawberries and a one of cherry tomatoes to exit Gaza to be sent to Europe, Fattouh said, adding that "hundreds" of truckloads of commercial goods and humanitarian aid are soon expected to enter the Strip.
The Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday following an upheaval of violence, during which a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli Civil Defense employee at the border and Israel hit Gaza with airstrikes, killing a 3-year-old girl and injuring several other Palestinians.
As fuel ran out, Gaza's power plant stopped functioning on Friday after operating for a mere 12 days.
Israeli security sources told the Israeli news site Ynet on Friday that Hamas was responsible for the plant's shutdown, saying the Islamist movement was unwilling to pay the PA for fuel.
But a Palestinian Authority official denied these claims, saying the fees for the current shipment of fuel had already been paid using funds donated by Qatar, as international media reported earlier in December.
"It's all because Israel has shut down the Kerem Shalom crossing, and if they decide to open it tomorrow, fuel will be shipped into the Gaza Strip," Nathmi Muhanna, the PA's director of border crossings, said in a statement Saturday.
Qatar donated $10 million for diesel fuel in response to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip that came to a head during a December storm that brought record snow and rainfall to the region. Between 10,000 and 40,000 Gaza residents were displaced due to the storm.
Fuel shortages had caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt in early November, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.
A crippling seven-year-old Israeli economic blockade on Gaza, in addition to frequent closures of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels, has effectively isolated Palestinians living in the coastal enclave from the outside world.