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'Besieged' Gaza Gets Diesel Through Israel

Gaza, whose Hamas leaders claim is under an “Israeli siege”, receives PA-bought diesel through a border crossing with Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/16/2013, 5:46 AM

Truck carrying fuel arrives in Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing
Truck carrying fuel arrives in Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing
Flash 90

Gaza, whose Hamas terrorist leaders constantly claim is under an “Israeli siege”, received a long-awaited diesel delivery on Sunday.

The delivery, which came from a border crossing with the same Israel that supposedly keeps Gaza under siege, brought the lone Gazan power station to life, AFP reported.

The region has struggled with massive flooding caused by winter downpours that began Wednesday, when a huge storm struck the Middle East.

Rain hit Gaza so hard over the weekend that hundreds of residents, if not thousands, had to be evacuated by boat.

Gaza had already been suffering from power outages for months, and the storm only made things worse. The Hamas government shut down Gaza’s power plant on November 1, causing a pump station to flood and sewage to seep into the Mediterranean Sea. Gaza residents have been facing daily power failures of 12 or even 18 hours.

"The power station started reworking gradually after stopping for 50 days," Jamal Dirsawi, spokesman for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co (GEDCO), told AFP on Sunday.

"The first generator has started working, the second one will follow, and by this evening, the company should be able to generate around 60 megawatts of electricity," Dirsawi added.

The power station returned to life after receiving a delivery of fuel purchased from Israel by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority using funds donated by Qatar.

The PA helped facilitate  the delivery via Israel, reported AFP. Raed Fatuh, the PA official in charge of the transfer of goods into Gaza, said deliveries of diesel and gas would continue on Monday and Tuesday.

The IDF said on its blog on Sunday that as soon as the storm began, the IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (COGAT) authorized the opening of crossings for the passage of fuel and equipment to reduce flooding in Gaza.

“In total, 1.2 million liters of fuel were transferred through Israel’s Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza,” said the IDF. “The fuel included 800,000 liters of diesel fuel for transportation, 400,000 liters of diesel fuel for Gaza’s power station, and another 200 tons of household gas. COGAT is maintaining ongoing coordination with the Palestinian Authority on the issue of transfers to Gaza.”

Furthermore, the IDF wrote, Israel recently organized a special summit for members of Gaza’s agricultural community.

According to the IDF blog, in the special summit last week, Israeli officials brought together key figures who specialize in the production and sale of agricultural products from Israel and Gaza.

“The meeting focused on strengthening cooperation between producers in Gaza and Israeli professionals from a range of fields. Organized by the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), under COGAT, the summit was attended by twelve leaders of Gaza agricultural organizations and representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Health, customs agents and entrepreneurs who market Gaza crops in Europe,” wrote the IDF.

“These kinds of meetings are constant,” explains Uri Madar, coordinator of agricultural cooperation for the CLA, adding that on a regular basis, Israel holds talks, workshops and summits designed to strengthen relations and promote trade from Gaza.

“It’s important to be able to help your neighbors grow their own food and market it,” he explained.

These latest actions on behalf of Israel are in addition to the humanitarian aid and other materials that Israel constantly allows into Gaza.

Israel has approved hundreds of internationally funded and monitored projects in Gaza. Recently, Hamas “returned the favor” by building a 2.5-kilometer (1.55-mile) tunnel which led from Gaza all the way into a kibbutz in southern Israel.

Several weeks ago, it appeared as though Gaza really was under siege, but an Egyptian one and not an Israeli one.

Since the Hamas-friendly Egyptian government of Mohammed Morsi was toppled in July, Egypt's military has destroyed hundreds of the tunnels leading into Gaza, sending Gaza's economy on a steep downward spiral.