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Israel Depletes Gaza of Fuel, Blackout Looming Monday
Crisis Brings Traffic to Standstill, Water Supply Threatened

Palestine Media Center


April 13, 2008

Available quantity of fuel will allow Gaza’s sole power plant to operate only Sunday, threatening to plunge the Gaza Strip into darkness Monday, unless Israeli deliveries of fuel are resumed to avert an imminent blackout as well as the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis, which brought traffic to a standstill in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip.

Jamal al-Dadrasawi, a spokesman for Gaza's power distribution company, told AFP that if the "if the fuel does not enter, there is going to be a real crisis." He added that the loss of the plant would deprive Gaza of 55 megawatts of electricity, resulting in territory-wide power cuts of up to 10 hours a day.

Dr. Rafiq Maliha, Director of Contracts at Gaza’s main power plant, said in a phone interview from Gaza on Thursday morning that "the situation is terrible, and we don’t know what will happen."

Maliha said the quantity of fuel on hand will allow the plant to operate Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday, when there would normally be no deliveries anyway due to the Israeli weekend, and on Sunday – when, even if fuel were to be delivered, it would take some hours to inject it into the system.

That means the Gaza power plant faces another critical situation on Monday, and complete down in a matter of hours, if Israeli fuel deliveries are not resumed on Sunday.

Maliha told the American Chronicle Saturday that the Gaza power plant has never been allowed to replenish its fuel reserves since they were drawn down following the start of Israeli military-imposed sanctions that began on 28 October.

Since then, the Gaza power plant continued to operate two transformers at full power, producing 65 MW of electricity per day for as long as possible, hoping for a change in the situation, and meanwhile trying to help meet the daily demand for electrical power in Gaza City and the central Gaza region, where at least one-third of Gaza´s population resides.

The reduced fuel allocation was not, however, sufficient to maintain operations at that level – and Gaza’s only power plant dipped daily into its fuel reserves in order to keep the two turbines operating for as long as possible.

There is also a severe crisis in ordinary diesel fuel and gasoline for private automobiles, which has nearly paralyzed life in the sealed-off coastal strip where 1.5 million souls are hemmed in, and unable to leave.

The power plant’s usable fuel reserves were completely depleted in early January.

Israel halted supplies after attackers from Gaza shot dead two Israelis at the Nahal Oz fuel depot on the Gaza-Israel border last week.

The Gaza power plant supplies about 30% of the Gazans’ electricity consumption. The rest of the supply comes from Israel (60%) and Egypt (10%).

"What's going on Gaza is a real violation against all noble charters of human laws and Geneva conventions," said Jamal al-Khudari, head of the popular committee against the siege at a press conference held in the main power plant in the central Gaza Strip.

He indicated that the Israeli fuel cut had the following "direct" results:

1. More than 85% of cars and vehicles in Gaza were grounded due to the shortage of fuel, diesel and Gasoline. The other 15% would stop in a few days.

2. More than 65% of the medical vehicles came to a standstill.

3. Municipalities and domestic societies' facilities running by fuel and gasoline are halted!

4. Drink and irrigation water wells are partially not working and soon will completely stop pumping water for civilians! Agricultural products will no longer grow and will die before it's due to be consumed.

5. Fishermen will not fish in the Palestinian water as the motorboats need fuel and gasoline.

6. Storage reserve of fuel for hospitals and clinics will run out soon. Thus, if power blackout hits Gaza back, tens of civilians would absolutely die.

7. Over 40 million liters of waste and untreated water are being pumped daily into the Mediterranean Sea. An environmental crisis is looming.

8. Waste water is leaking to the groundwater wells.

9. Students of school, colleges, universities and kindergartens are not able to get to their study places. Therefore, educational life is completely paralyzed.

10. Doctors, nurses, patients and employees of hospitals are not able to reach clinics, health centers and hospitals. Thus, tremendous health complications would happen, threatening lives.

11. Public sector employees are no longer able to get to their work premises especially those who dwell in remote areas!

12. Landline, cell phone and internet networks would be halted in the coming few days, in case of blackout.

13. Dealers are not able to distribute food stuff, affecting public nutrition.

:: Article nr. 43044 sent on 14-apr-2008 07:20 ECT


Link: www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=1667

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