Middle East. Gaza’s only power plant shut down for lack of fuel

The only power plant in the Gaza Strip is shut down this Saturday for lack of fuel, a spokesman for the electricity company announced, on the fifth day of the complete closure of the Palestinian enclave by Israel.

“The power plant in Gaza has stopped (working) due to a shortage of fuel,” Mohammed Thabet said in a statement.

Border crossings closed since the beginning of the week

The site operates largely on diesel deliveries from Israel, which closed border crossings with Palestinian territory earlier this week.

The Jewish state feared actions from the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the arrest in the occupied West Bank of a leader of the Islamic Jihad group, an organization well established in the enclave under Israeli blockade.

Israel launched a “preemptive strike” against Islamic Jihad in Gaza on Friday, killing 15 fighters in ongoing strikes, the army said. Gaza authorities reported 12 dead, including a five-year-old girl, and more than 80 injured.

Islamic Jihad responded with barrages of rockets into Israel.

Thousands of Gazans forced to stay at home

By ordering the closure of border crossings on Tuesday, the Israeli authorities prevented the delivery of diesel necessary to supply the plant and also forced thousands of Gazans, holders of work permits in Israel, to stay at home.

The Gaza Electricity Utility had warned in a statement earlier Saturday that shutting down the plant “would affect all public services and critical infrastructure and exacerbate the humanitarian situation”.

She called on “all parties to urgently intervene and allow the entry of fuel for the power plant to operate”.

The 2.3 million inhabitants of the Palestinian territory are regularly confronted with power cuts. Last week they had only ten hours of electricity a day on average, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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