Turkey Bails Out Fuel-Starved Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) -

Turkey will fund a purchase of fuel to provide power for emergency services in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, including hospitals and idle sewage treatment plants, a United Nations official said on Thursday.

Robert Turner, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides assistance to the Palestinians, said Turkey had pledged $850,000, which should allow emergency services to operate over the next four months.

Turner said the donation was paid by Turkey to the Palestinian Authority, which in turn had already transferred $200,000 of it to UNRWA in Gaza.

“We are facilitating the process by purchasing the fuel; locations and the distribution and monitoring are being done by UNICEF and by the World Health Organisation,” Turner, the UNRWA Gaza director of operations, told Reuters.

Turner said the fuel would not be enough to resolve the crisis at these critical service facilities but would help to “alleviate” it.

Egypt’s months-long crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels that used to bring fuel in cheaply has knocked out Gaza’s only power plant, meaning a month of daily 12-hour blackouts.

A major sewage treatment plant that serves a neighborhood of 120,000 people has stopped working and raw sewage is overflowing into the streets, municipal officials said. Other facilities were also threatened with closure, they said.

The Egyptian policy was precipitated by a rise in terrorist activity in Sinai, which was blamed on Hamas and other groups based in Gaza.