Kerem Shalom Crossing
Kerem Shalom CrossingIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israel will allow the import of 450,000 liters of industrial diesel to Gaza on Sunday morning in order to allow the region’s sole power plant to begin working again, an official told the Ma'an news agency on Saturday evening.

The president of the committee for the import of goods, Raed Fattouh, confirmed the planned entry of approximately 450,000 liters of industrial diesel on Sunday intended for use at the power station, which has been shut down for lack of fuel since November.

Fattouh told Ma'an that the import comes amidst a major deal that would facilitate the extension of working hours at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza for the next week.

Fattouh said that the step is "the first of its kind" and will extend working hours at the Kerem Shalom crossing for up to 12 hours a day for the next week, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The decision was made to allow the import of aid and fuel for the residents of Gaza after the devastation caused by this week’s storm to property and agricultural land.

Gaza has suffered from power outages for months, and the storm only made things worse. The Hamas government shut down Gaza’s lone 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.

Hamas has refused to import Israeli diesel because of taxes imposed by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which is led by its rival Fatah.

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers constantly claim that the region is under an “Israeli siege”, ignoring the fact that Israel continuously allows humanitarian aid and other materials into Gaza and has approved hundreds of internationally funded and monitored projects in Gaza.

Recently, however, 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.

An UNRWA spokesperson quoted by Ma’an on Saturday called large swathes of Gaza a "disaster area," and called for the end of the “crippling blockade” on the coastal enclave.

"A community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these manmade constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this," UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said.