Fuel Shortage Causes Blackouts in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) -

Gaza’s lone power plant shut its generators on Friday due to a fuel shortage, a move that will likely increase already long blackout hours in the impoverished coastal territory run by Hamas.

Chairman of the Gaza Energy Authority Fathy Asheik-Khalil said the plant, which serves almost half of Gaza’s 1.8 million people, went offline after fuel became too scarce.

Gaza residents have lived with eight hours of daily blackouts in recent years because of fuel shortages. The Gaza Energy Authority said the power plant’s closure means Palestinians could suffer 12 hours of daily blackouts.

The fuel supply steadily decreased after Egypt in June stepped up a campaign to demolish smuggling tunnels along its border with the enclave which were a major import conduit.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority pledged last week to deliver fuel to Gaza without a usual tax, allowing the rival Hamas government to buy 400,000 liters of fuel a day.

But the Authority cancelled its offer of a tax exemption, Khalil said in a statement, making it difficult for the Gaza authorities to afford the fuel. The Authority did not say why it decided to reimpose the tax.