Egypt to supply Gaza power station with fuel

Egypt has promised to provide diesel fuel for the Gaza Strip's sole power plant, which went down this week after running out of fuel, a Gaza official said on Saturday.

"Following our contacts with Egyptian officials, there have been serious promises to furnish us fuel from tomorrow [Sunday]," said Ahmad Abu al-Amrin, from the Gaza energy authority.

Al-Sayyed Negeida, the head of the Egyptian Parliament's Industry and Energy Committee, told the Palestinian Al-Aqsa satellite channel that Egypt has decided to start pumping fuel to Gaza's power plant on Sunday.

The power plant, which supplies around a third of Gaza's electricity, suffers frequent outages, leading to daily blackouts across the Hamas-run territory.

When the power plant went down on Tuesday, Amrin said he had called on Egypt "to assume its historical responsibility in supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people by ensuring they had all the necessary fuel to operate the plant."

Negeida that the amounts to be supplied to Gaza include 500,000 liters for the power plant and 100,000 for cars.

According to the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, the amount of fuel being transported through tunnels from Egypt to Gaza has dropped by half over the past fortnight, reportedly due to increased restrictions on the movement of fuel by the Egyptian police.

Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also urged Egypt to help, issuing a statement calling on Cairo to "immediately intervene and meet all the electricity needs of Gaza in a permanent way," warning that the territory was facing a "real humanitarian crisis."

Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qader told AFP the power cuts were endangering the lives of hospital patients.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 following the capture of one of its soldiers in June of that year.

The blockade was tightened a year later following Hamas's forcible takeover of the territory, and Israel began restricting the amounts of fuel allowed through the crossings.

The fuel crisis in Gaza exacerbated in late December when Egyptian security authorities imposed procedures to curb the smuggling of Egyptian fuel to Gaza via underground tunnels.

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