Daily Israel Report

No Fuel in Gaza, but Hamas Doesn't Want it from Israel

Egypt has yet to deliver on a promise of fuel to Gaza, but Hamas doesn't want the fuel coming through Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/20/2012, 6:47 AM

Goods at Kerem Shalom crossing (file)
Goods at Kerem Shalom crossing (file)
Flash 90

Fuel from Egypt has yet to be transferred to Gaza despite assurances it would arrive on Sunday, a power authority official in Gaza said.

The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday that while an Egyptian parliamentarian said Saturday that Egypt would pump 500,000 liters of fuel into Gaza per day for its power plant, which shut down last Tuesday, and 100,000 for gas stations, the route of the promised fuel into Gaza appeared to be holding up the delivery.

The report said Egypt wants to stop the passage of fuel through tunnels under the border between Gaza and Egypt, but the official Rafah terminal is not equipped for goods transfers.

Ma’an noted that the only alternative route is for the fuel to cross into Israel and then back into Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom terminal.

However, Gaza’s Hamas rulers appear to be reluctant to transfer the fuel through Israel. Energy Authority official Ahmad Abu al-Amreen told Ma'an that the government does not want to rely on transfers via Israel, because it claims Israel severely restricts the movement of people and goods from Gaza. He added, however, that Hamas will allow shipment via the Israeli crossing temporarily to alleviate the current emergency.

Abu al-Amreen added the power authority had not received notification from Egypt about how the fuel would be transferred.

“We keep contacting the relevant authorities in Egypt, but so far we received no answers,” he said.

The Gaza Energy Authority announced more than ten days ago that if fuel doesn't enter the coastal enclave within 72 hours the Hamas-controlled area will face a severe electricity crisis.

Hamas called on Arab and Islamic countries to intervene to prevent a crisis and sought to blame Israel for the shortage, citing an "Israeli ban on construction materials."

The terror group says it has been impossible to rebuild power stations destroyed in Operation Cast Lead early in 2009.

However, Israel began allowing construction materials for pre-approved projects like schools, hospitals, and critical infrastructure to enter Gaza in early 2011 - leading many observers to place the blame on the impending 'crisis' on Hamas.

Hamas, they say, benefits from inaction because any crisis will provide them with fuel for their propaganda machine and allow them to incite local passions against Israel.

In addition to allowing construction material and other goods to enter Gaza, Israel also allows exporting of agricultural products, such as strawberries and carnations, from Gaza to Europe, as part of an extensive project financed by the Dutch government. Recently it was announced that, in addition to the agricultural exports, Gaza will soon be able to export furniture to Europe as part of a new pilot program.

Gaza has just recently begun exporting tomatoes to Saudi Arabia. The tomatoes were transferred to Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing on February 8, and a day later were exported abroad via the Allenby Bridge. Several days before that, Gaza exported 31 tons of tomatoes to Jordan.