Blackouts hit Gaza after sole power plant shuts down

 

The Gaza Strip faced new blackouts on Sunday after its only power plant shut down after receiving no fuel from Israel in four days, senior Palestinian officials said.

"There is a very serious crisis with respect to electricity," Jamal al-Dardasawi, spokesman for the Gaza electrical distribution company, told AFP.

"With the power station having shut down, we are only receiving 120 megawatts from Israel and we need around 250 megawatts. There is a shortfall of around 50 per cent," he said.

The Gaza plant provides 30 per cent of the impoverished territory's electricity, with most of the rest directly supplied by Israel and a small amount coming from Egypt.

By Sunday afternoon bakeries across Gaza City were closing for lack of electricity to power their ovens.

Masbah al-Shanti, who owns a bakery in central Gaza, began turning customers away in the middle of the afternoon.

"We are not going to work until they supply us with more fuel. This situation does not just threaten us as bakery owners but it threatens everyone," he said.

Abu Ahmed, a 45-year-old father of six, arrived too late. "I went to buy bread but all the bakeries are closed. I don't know how much longer this is going to continue," he said.

Israel cut off fuel shipments to the Hamas-ruled territory after Palestinian militants attacked Gaza's main Nahal Oz fuel terminal on April 9, killing two Israeli civilian employees.

It later resumed the supply of industrial-grade fuel for the power plant, which provides most of the electricity for Gaza City and surrounding areas, despite several subsequent attacks on Nahal Oz and other crossings.

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