A leading businessman said the Gaza Strip is rapidly running out of cooking gas, after a large crowd of Palestinian demonstrators destroyed parts of the only cargo crossing through which fuel and gas can enter the territory from Israel.
Samir Hamada, head of the association of cooking gas vendors, said Sunday that Gaza’s 2 million residents consume about 350 tons of gas daily, but that only about 300 tons are still available at private sales outlets. He says the territory’s Hamas rulers ordered sales to stop to assess the shortage.
Late Friday, a large crowd of Palestinians badly damaged a fuel and gas terminal and a conveyor belt at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel closed the crossing and said it would likely take weeks or months to repair the damage.
The army said Saturday that its recommendation to shutter the crossing, which ordinarily sees hundreds of cargo-bearing trucks pass into Gaza each day, was approved by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Friday’s vandalism at the crossing was a repeat of a similar incident on May 4, when rioters broke into the Palestinian side of the crossing and damaged pipelines carrying gas and oil into Gaza, which already suffers from a significant energy shortage.
Around 15,000 Palestinians took part in protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Friday, in the final weekly “March of Return” before next week’s Nakba Day events on May 14 and 15, when the violent demonstrations are expected to reach their peak.
The Hamas-encouraged demonstrations are aimed at breaking down the border fence and asserting Palestinian demands for millions to “return” to what is now Israel. They are also protesting the decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade, imposed after the terror group violently seized power in Gaza in 2007, and designed to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry.
Israel says that Hamas, a terror group that has vowed to destroy Israel, uses the protests as a cover for violent attacks at the border and attempts to breach into Israeli territory.
On Friday, the IDF accused Hamas of orchestrating the damage to Kerem Shalom, saying the ruling terror group was “harming the well-being of Gaza residents and paralyzing their daily life.”
The IDF said violent protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers at five major points along the border. Troops were attacked with pipe bombs, grenades, rocks, and burning tires. Rioters also attempted to sabotage “security infrastructure,” the army said.