Israel said it would allow power generators to be taken into the Gaza Strip to ease the humanitarian crisis plaguing the Palestinian enclave, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
The approval was promised by Israeli officials Wednesday in an emergency meeting in Brussels of an international committee coordinating Palestinian development aid and political efforts. Government ministers from Israel and Egypt, as well as the Palestinian prime minister and a US senior official, attended the talks.
The report said that Israel will allow in the generators but has insisted on a series of security measures to ensure that they are not misused by Hamas and other terror groups.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told reporters that Israel has plans for a series of projects such as electricity grid expansion, sewage treatment and a desalination plant for the impoverished Gaza Strip, but wants international money to fund it.
“I did hear some representatives of countries saying that they are going be part of it, that they are going to pledge, they are going to help,” he said. “If it’s financed by the international community, of course it will happen.”
On Wednesday, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said seven medical centers had stopped services due to lack of fuel to power generators.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, said the health situation had entered an “unprecedented stage” due to an electricity crisis.
He said the seven centers in different parts of Gaza would stop all services as they did not have the fuel to run backup generators.
On Monday, a hospital in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza announced it would transfer all its patients and stop services due to lack of fuel.
The Hamas terror group’s longtime rival in the West Bank, Fatah, has accused the Islamists of exaggerating the problem, saying fuel and funding have been provided.
Gaza needs around 500 megawatts of power a day but receives less than half of that, and residents receive only a few hours of electricity per day.
Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the electricity distribution company in Gaza GEDCO, said this week it had been as low as 178 megawatts, while demand has spiked due to cold weather.
To survive, hospitals and other public bodies rely on fuel-powered generators, but fuel shortages are common.
Thabet said the amount of fuel imported from neighboring Egypt had declined in recent days.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, since the Strip was taken over by the Hamas terror group in a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority. Israel has fought three wars with the terror group since 2008, and insists the blockade is necessary to stop Hamas importing weapons and material used to construct terror tunnels and fortifications.
Other goods and supplies such as fuel are allowed to enter through one crossing from Israel into Gaza. Egypt, too, has allowed some fuel to be imported.
In January, Gazans took to the streets to protest the increasingly unlivable conditions in the Strip.
A flurry of recent reports have warned that the enclave is on the verge of collapse, its 1.8 million inhabitants plagued by frequent electricity blackouts, undrinkable water and an outdated cellular network.