Gaza’s only power plant shuts down over fuel shortage
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Gaza’s only power plant shuts down over fuel shortage

Fears grow that closure of plant, which normally provides around a fifth of Gaza’s electricity, will further worsen already critical humanitarian situation in enclave

Illustrative: Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
Illustrative: Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

GAZA CITY — The sole electricity plant in the Gaza Strip stopped working Thursday because of a lack of fuel, officials said, as concerns grew over worsening humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

The closure of the plant, which normally provides around a fifth of Gaza’s electricity, will exacerbate an already critical power shortage.

Gaza’s two million residents receive only around four hours of electricity a day.

Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for Gaza’s energy distribution company, said it had been informed by the energy authority that the power station stopped functioning at midnight because of the lack of fuel.

Usually the plant provides around 20 megawatts per day using fuel imported from Egypt, but now the only energy is the roughly 120 megawatts of electricity imported from Israel.

“The Gaza Strip needs around 500 megawatts (per day). We have an energy deficit of 380 megawatts,” Thabet said.

The distribution company called in a statement for rapid moves to provide fuel to the plant again.

Last week, the United Arab Emirates provided financing for fuel for generators at hospitals and other key facilities. Three hospitals and 16 medical centers had stopped offering key services in recent weeks because of the crippling fuel shortages.

The power station has temporarily shut down a number of times in recent years over energy shortages.

It was hit by Israel in previous wars with Hamas, the terror group that runs the Palestinian territory.

Israel has maintained a blockade on the Strip for a decade, saying it is essential to prevent terrorists from obtaining materials to fortify military positions, dig tunnels and build rockets to fire at the Jewish state, and Egypt has also largely closed its border in recent years.

The Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, has also sought to squeeze rival Hamas.

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