Daily Israel Report

Egypt Blocks Black Market Fuel Imports to Gaza

Egyptian security forces blocked black marketeers from importing fuel to Gaza on Saturday.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/20/2012, 2:46 PM

Egyptian Troops Deploy
Egyptian Troops Deploy
Reuters

Egyptian security force blocked black marketeers from importing fuel to Gaza on Saturday.

Two vehicles were stopped by Egyptian forces after they broke through a checkpoint between the Sinai city of El-Arish and Sheikh Zweid. Police fired at their tires, bringing both vehicles to a halt. One was carrying 1,100 liters of fuel in nine barrels and 10 jerrycans, according to the Ma'an news agency. The other vehicle contained 900 liters of petrol.

During questioning, the drivers admitted to police they were delivering the fuel to smugglers who were importing it to Gaza.

The incident is part of an ongoing struggle to stop the flow of unlicensed fuel into the Hamas terrorist-controlled region.

Last week, Egyptian forces seized four vehicles carrying a similar load for the same purpose.

Three weeks ago, security forces stopped a truck traveling through the Sinai Peninsula, also loaded with unlicensed fuel to be sold on the black market. This time, the truck was carrying a cargo of 10,000 liters of fuel, and was heading to the tunnels that honeycomb the area under the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Hamas has used the tunnels as a means of making money to keep its economy going and raise taxes from within and outside the region. The terrorist entity taxes every item smuggled through the tunnels, including fuel deliveries, goods and luxury items.

In February, the Egyptian government shut down fuel deliveries that came through the tunnel network to Gaza. The move sparked a fuel shortage that caused widespread blackouts.

More than a year earlier, Hamas decided it no longer needed to purchase fuel from Israel. Instead, it relied on fuel it could more cheaply import legally – and illegally smuggle through the black market – from Egypt.

Cairo agreed in February to implement a three-stage plan that would end chronic fuel shortages in Gaza and eventually hook up the Hamas-run enclave to the regional Egyptian power grid. The agreement between Egyptian leaders and Hamas terrorists came following days of negotiations prompted by dark nights and medical crises, when Gaza's sole power plant went dry after running out of diesel