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Entry of Qatari fuel into Gaza held up; Israel, PA trade blame

25 trucks intended for power plant in Strip are stuck at Kerem Shalom crossing; Israeli official says it’s Palestinians’ fault, PA denies it

A Hamas security officer checks a truck entering Gaza at the gate of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing with Israel, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, June 21, 2021. (Adel Hana/AP)
A Hamas security officer checks a truck entering Gaza at the gate of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing with Israel, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, June 21, 2021. (Adel Hana/AP)

Israeli authorities prevented 25 truckloads of Qatari-funded fuel intended for Gaza’s only power plant from entering the Strip, Hamas officials told the terror group’s Voice of Al-Aqsa radio station on Sunday morning.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military body responsible for coordinating the entry of goods into Gaza, declined to comment.

A Defense Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, blamed the Palestinians for the delay, saying the Palestinian Authority body responsible for coordinating with Israel had failed to inform Israeli authorities that the fuel was scheduled to enter the enclave.

“As soon as the Palestinians properly coordinate with us, the fuel will enter,” the official said.

Two Palestinian officials in Gaza dismissed that explanation, telling The Times of Israel they had not been informed of any coordination issues.

The officials further maintained they were not responsible at all for coordinating the entry of Qatari fuel, which falls under a separate mechanism. Qatar, through its Gaza envoy Mohammad al-Emadi, and the United Nations coordinate directly with Israel to allow fuel to enter Gaza, the Palestinian officials contended.

A truck passes into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering the Strip from Israel, on May 18, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)

United Nations and Qatari officials declined to comment.

Qatar has provided subsidized fuel for Gaza’s only power plant since 2018 as part of an aid package it provides to the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

Until the May fighting between Israel and Hamas, Jerusalem permitted the subsidies to enter, in a bid to soothe tensions on its southern border. But since the May conflict, Jerusalem has sought to impose heightened restrictions on Gaza, significantly limiting imports and exports.

Israel has also largely halted the entrance of Qatari subsidies — which in the past included millions in cash — although it recently permitted Qatari-funded fuel to begin re-entering Gaza. Israeli officials have vowed that they will not allow a return to the status quo, which they view as too favorable to the Hamas terror group.

During the war, Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rockets caused at least $290 million worth of damage to the Gaza Strip, international assessors reported in early July.

A photo taken on June 24, 2019, shows raw sewage flowing near the main Gaza Strip power plant, serving the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, south of Gaza City. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Israel and Egypt have blockaded the Gaza Strip for nearly 15 years in an attempt to weaken the enclave’s Hamas rulers, who took charge in a 2007 coup. Both countries say the measure is necessary to prevent the terror group from obtaining weapons and materials to build fortifications and tunnels.

Israel and Hamas have been conducting indirect negotiations in Cairo in an attempt to strengthen the fragile ceasefire between the two sides. Israeli officials have said they will condition allowing the reconstruction of Gaza and easing the heightened restrictions on reaching a prisoner exchange with Hamas that secures the return of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed and the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who died in 2014 fighting.

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