A shortage of fuel has halted the production of electricity across the Gaza Strip, the Energy Authority in the Palestinian enclave said.
“The power plant has been shut down due to fuel shortage. The stock of fuel is zero. All parts of life in Gaza will be affected.” Fathi el-Sheikh Khalil, the authority’s deputy chairman, told Al Jazeera.
The electricity supply had been cut off across most of the territory on Friday morning.
Khalil blamed the power outage on Israel’s destruction of tunnels used for bringing fuel to Gaza and accused the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of charging Hamas too much for its fuel.
“Less than 50 percent of the needs of the Gaza Strip are currently covered by electricity from Israel [and] we can no longer get Egyptian fuel due to the destruction of tunnels from Egypt,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority pledged last week to deliver fuel to Gaza without a usual tax, allowing the Hamas government to buy 400,000 litres of fuel a day.
But the Authority cancelled its offer of a tax exemption, Khalil said in a statement, making it difficult for the Gaza authorities to afford the fuel.
The Gaza plant supplies about a third of the territory’s electricity needs.
In addition to the power plant, which produces up to 65 megawatts, Israel feeds the strip with 120 megawatts and Egypt pours in 27 megawatts.
Gaza residents have endured around eight hours of daily blackouts in recent years because of fuel shortages. The Gaza Energy Authority said the power plant’s closure means Palestinians could suffer 12 hours of daily blackouts.
“The plant will remain shut until fuel supplies resume from Egypt through the tunnels or the Rafah border crossing, or from Israel if the Palestinian Authority agrees not to impose the heavy taxes,” said Khalil.
In September, the Gaza Energy Authority warned of an impending shortage of fuel and called on Egypt to resume deliveries to the territory.
Relations between Cairo and Hamas have deteriorated since the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July.
An Israeli raid to destroy a Gaza tunnel ignited clashes late Thursday in which tank fire killed four Hamas commanders and five Israeli soldiers were wounded, officials from both sides said.