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Hamas, Egypt Finalize Gaza Energy Deal

Egyptian authorities and Hamas officials finalize their agreement to end the energy crisis in Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/24/2012, 7:12 AM

Children in Gaza during power outage
Children in Gaza during power outage
Reuters

Egyptian authorities and Hamas officials have reached an agreement to end the energy crisis in Gaza, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported Thursday.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu told the news agency that a deal had been reached after “intensive negotiations” between Hamas’ prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, Egyptian officials and the Islamic Development Bank.

Al-Nunu said the deal included three stages. The first stipulates that Egyptian companies pump fuel directly to Gaza under the terms of contracts signed with firms. The second stage will see the Islamic Development Bank finance a project to increase the capacity of Gaza's sole power-plant by 40 megawatts.

The third part of the agreement, al-Nunu said, will see the Gazan electricity grid connected to Egypt's, as well as converting the coastal enclave's sole power plant from diesel to gas.

The pending agreement was first reported on Monday and was finalized on Thursday. Gaza's power station went dark on February 14 due to a shortage of diesel fuel for its generators.

The current crisis was brought on when sources of black market fuel being shipped to Gaza through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula dried up after Egyptian authorities started to crack down.

During the fuel crisis, Gaza’s Hamas rulers refused to transfer fuel from Egypt through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing, claiming Israel severely restricts the movement of people and goods from Gaza.

Earlier on Thursday, the head of the Palestinian Authority energy authority charged Hamas with politicizing the Gaza electricity crisis during ongoing negotiations with Egypt.