Gaza residents are blaming Egypt’s security establishment for shutting down the smuggling of gasoline and diesel through tunnels across the border, bringing life in the city to a near standstill.
Ahmad Abadleh, an official in Gaza’s petrol authority, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi Wednesday that 80% of Gaza’s gas stations have shut down. The daily reports that Gaza taxi drivers have begun using cooking oil to fuel their cars.
Gaza’s latest energy crisis began one month ago, when Egyptian authorities began cracking down on smuggling tunnels linking Sinai to the Gaza Strip. The lack of diesel has caused Gaza’s only power station to shut down, leading to power shortages across Gaza. The city’s medical services were also on the verge of collapse as a result of the power outs, local officials reported.
Kanaan Abid, head of Gaza’s energy authority, accused the Egyptian intelligence agency (Mukhabarat) on Tuesday for thwarting a deal between the governments of Gaza and Egypt to supply Gaza with fuel. Abid told Filastin daily, a Hamas affiliate, that the Egyptian goal is to force Palestinians to import their fuel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing controlled by Israel.
“It is the right of the Palestinian people to lash out at Egypt,” Abid told Filastin.
But Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar denied Abid’s allegations, calling them “irresponsible.” He put the blame for Gaza’s crisis squarely on the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
“The Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority bear 100% responsibility for the crises in Gaza,” Zahar told the Middle East news agency in Gaza, explaining that Israel is legally responsible for
That was also the official position of the Hamas government in Gaza, accusing Israel for the crisis in its weekly meeting on Tuesday. The government directed all civil servants in the city to provide free transportation to citizens in government cars, Maan news agency reported Tuesday.
Egypt, too, is suffering a fuel crisis. Cars crowded near gas stations Wednesday and state-run bakeries, dependent on fuel for their machinery, threatened to shut their doors, the Egypt Independent reported.