RAMALLAH – The Power Distribution Company in Gaza Strip Tuesday said that Israel occupation authorities prevent the maintenance of the major electric power transmission line.
The company said that the Israeli authorities prevent its technical teams from maintaining the “sea line” which supplies the wide areas in Gaza governorate and northern cities with 12 Megawatts of electricity.
“Our teams were prevented from entering the border area to the east of Khan Younis to maintain the line after the areas faced power failure since two weeks,” the company said.
The company warned that the Israeli move “aggravates the power crisis in Gaza Strip and badly affects the humanitarian conditions, and the daily needs of residents in the area.”
The Hamas-controlled enclave is facing a power crisis since Israel damaged the sole power station in the area in a military operation in 2006 when Hamas militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The company said that that Gaza needs 350 megawatts of electricity. Israel provides 120MW, Egypt 22MW and the Gaza power plant has a maximum capacity of 120MW. The deficit means power cuts have been a feature of daily life for several years, but the recent crisis has increased their length and frequency, it said.
It added that there is only enough electricity to meet 30 percent of Gaza Strip’s needs. According to the company, “the interruption of electricity supply is badly affecting all sectors – health, industry, education, and infrastructure. Water cannot reach people’s houses because there is no electricity to operate pumps. Sewage cannot be treated. All of life is affected by this crisis.”
The Gaza power station was forced to shut down several times as a result of the fuel shortage.
The Hamas government turned to smuggled fuel after the stringent blockade imposed on the coastal enclave by Israel in 2007, which led to big shortages in fuel for both industrial and domestic consumption.
Despite the easing of the blockade in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid killed nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound ship, Israeli-imported fuel is still in short supply and much more expensive than fuel smuggled from Egypt.
After 350 out of 800 of smuggling tunnels underneath the borderline of Egypt and Gaza were sealed off or destroyed, Gaza signed a deal with Cairo, under which Egypt would supply legitimate fuel at international prices.
However, the agreement has not yet been put into effect due to a dispute over where the fuel should enter Gaza.
The Egyptians say their only border crossing with Gaza, at Rafah, is unsuitable for heavy goods and want to bring fuel in via Israel’s industrial crossing at Kerem Shalom. But this would require Gaza’s power station and other businesses to pay import duties levied by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) and collected on its behalf by Israel. For the rival Hamas government, this would add to the blow of losing its own tax revenues on smuggled fuel.
It calls its Gaza blockade a precaution against weapons reaching Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups by sea. Palestinians and their supporters say the blockade is illegal collective punishment.
(www.saudigazette.com.sa / 30.10.2012)