"Now the fuel shipments are entering Gaza and the trucks carrying the shipments are ... heading towards the power plant," Kanaan Abaid from the energy authority said.

The EU acknowledged humanitarian concerns caused by the lack of power and agreed to audit the plant in conjunction with the West Bank-based government of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Political sidestep

The decision to resume funding for fuel was announced after Ismail Haniya, a Hamas leader, said he had given assurances to the EU that his group had no plans to introduce any new taxes on electricity generated by the plant.

Abaid said the shipment of fuel on Wednesday was larger than the usual daily delivery before the EU freeze.

Hamas has been shunned by much of the West due to its refusal to recognise Israel and since it took over the Gaza Strip in June, efforts to isolate the movement and shore up the government of Abbas in the West Bank have continued.
 

Gaza has been left in darkness after
sunset for several days [AFP]

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said the fact that the EU solved the crisis with the West Bank government and sidestepped Hamas shows that it is still not prepared to deal with the movement.

"The way people are viewing this is in the context of the Palestinian Authority trying to reinstall its control of the Gaza Strip and reassert its authority," she said.

"And as Hamas trying to exert its control of the territory and demonstrate that everyone must talk to them for progress to be made."

The electricity cuts initially began on Friday after Israel closed a fuel crossing with Gaza, citing security threats.

Although Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, the fuel shipments were not renewed because the EU notified the Israeli fuel vendor that it would not pay for them.

At least half of Gaza's 1.4 million residents were left without lights, fans and air conditioning for five days as temperatures soared to 34C.

Israeli and Egyptian companies that power the rest of the strip provided some added electricity.

But for the most part, the affected areas were blacked out for 20 hours a day, forcing shops to run on generators and families to go to shops every few hours because they could not refrigerate food.