Egypt supplies fuel for Gaza to briefly ease electricity crisis

Egypt has begun to aid Gaza in its power crisis; Abbas is upset.

Egypt has supplied the Gaza Strip with 1 million liters (220,000 gallons) of diesel fuel to address a growing electricity crisis, amid an ongoing control feud between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas.

Egypt’s shipment undercut a high-stakes campaign by PA head Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to weaken Hamas by gradually reducing the flow of electricity to the territory he lost to the terrorists in 2007.

Gaza’s power plant shut down in April, after Hamas refused to buy heavily taxed fuel from Abbas’ government.

This left the territory with electricity sent solely from Israel, but paid for by Abbas. The electricity from Israel covered about one-third of Gaza’s needs, meaning Gazans were getting power for only about four hours a day.

In recent days, Israel cut the electricity flow by 40 percent, at Abbas’ request.

The output of the power plant, which resumed operations Thursday, makes up for the Abbas-initiated cuts, said Mohammed Thabit, a spokesman of the Gaza electricity company.

Hamas officials said more fuel shipments are expected this week, adding that 1 million liters can keep the plant running for three-and-a-half days.

Abbas has not commented publicly on the Egyptian shipment, but aides said he is upset with the country for undercutting his pressure campaign.

On Wednesday, the Abbas government tried to prevent the power plant from accepting the Egyptian fuel shipment, threatening punitive measures if it opened its gates to the Egyptian fuel trucks, said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official.

Hamas obtained a local court order forcing the power plant to accept the shipment.

A Palestinian official said the PA had threatened to withhold its monthly support payment to the privately owned power plant if it accepted the Egyptian fuel.

This development is the latest phase in an ongoing power struggle between the rival Palestinian factions.

As is often the case, the struggle comes at the expense of the locals.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff