Gaza power dwindles after crossing closes

Major power station forced to shut as Israel closes crossing and restricts deliveries after days of clashes.

    The Gaza Strip's only power station has shut down due to a lack of fuel, the energy authority says, after Israel closed a goods crossing as a security measure following rocket attacks from Gaza.

    "The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing,"  said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, the deputy director of the energy authority, on Saturday.

    On Thursday the Israeli defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza and the Erez pedestrian crossing "until further security assessments".

    Israel since Tuesday has targeted suspected camps of Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip following a barrage of rockets fired from the territory.

    The confrontation began when an Israeli air raid killed three fighters of Islamic Jihad who had fired a mortar shell at Israeli troops allegedly trying to enter southern Gaza.

    The energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by Hamas was forced to cut the plant's operation from only 12 hours a day to six until the fuel ran out.

    The facility, which supplies about a third of Gaza's electricity needs, has been forced to shut several times, most recently in December.

    The Israeli government on Saturday denied the it was cutting off fuel supplies, and said the source of the shortage was an internal conflict between the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

    A spokesman told Al Jazeera that the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed due to security reasons, because of dozens of rockets fired on Israel's southern communities.

    "In total, the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed for one day. On Friday and Saturday the crossing is closed anyway," the spokesman said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And AFP


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