Egypt sent fuel on Wednesday to the Gaza Strip’s only power plant to help alleviate an energy crisis that has left the Palestinian enclave’s two million residents with less than three hours of electricity per day.
The delivery, a sign of improved relations between Hamas and Egypt after years of friction, was the first official import of Egyptian diesel to Gaza since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007 and could provide seven hours of power for three days.
Fuel from Egypt used to be smuggled through tunnels, many of them now destroyed by Cairo, which said they were conduits for weapons and terrorists battling Egyptian forces in the neighboring Sinai peninsula — an allegation denied by Hamas.
Diesel tankers, flying the Egyptian and Palestinian flags, crossed into Gaza two days after Israeli supply cuts began. The Palestinian Authority had cut payments for its Israeli electricity supply, arguing that Hamas is not reimbursing its share of the cost, and Israel has therefore cut the power supply by almost a third.
The imports were agreed at talks in Cairo this month between Gaza’s Hamas chief, Yehya Al-Sinwar, and Egyptian security officials. Sources close to those negotiations said the deal was also facilitated by Mohammad Dahlan, a Fatah rival of Abbas living in Abu Dhabi.
The 264,000 gallons in the shipment on Wednesday could be followed by another delivery later in the day or on Thursday, the Hamas-appointed deputy finance minister in Gaza, Youssef al-Kayali, said.