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                                        Volume. 11947
Gaza's only power plant 'shuts down for lack of fuel'
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Gaza99a.jpgThe Gaza Strip's only power plant shut down Saturday due to a lack of fuel from Israel, which closed a goods crossing after militant rocket attacks, the energy authority said.
 
"The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel's) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, AFP reported. 
 
On Thursday, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza and the Erez pedestrian crossing "until further security assessments."
 
The power plant is one of the main sources of electricity for Gaza's 1.8 million people and without it, daily blackouts of around 12 hours are expected. Electricity is also received directly from Israel and Egypt.
 
Gaza lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows but which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies.
 
A few months ago the plant was switched off for 43 days due to a fuel shortage that arose after neighboring Egypt closed off smuggling tunnels. Israel eventually allowed in fuel paid for by Qatar when a storm swept the region.
 
But that fuel has run out, said Ahmed Abu Al-Amrain, a spokesman Gaza's energy authority, according to Reuters. 
 
Last time there were blackouts, Qatar gave funds to Hamas's West Bank-based rival, President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which then ordered fuel for the enclave from Israel.
 
Gaza's energy authority said on March 12 that Qatar had agreed to extend its funding of fuel for three more months.
 
For the arrangement to work again, Israel would have to open its commercial crossing on the border with Gaza, which it closed after violence erupted along the frontier this week.
 
"The closure of the crossing by the Israeli occupation is an act of collective punishment," Amrain said.
 

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