Hamas and Egypt agree on Gaza electricity
GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
Palestinian children hold candles calling for the restoration of electricity during a protest in Gaza. AFP photoHamas has reached a “comprehensive agreement” with Egypt to permanently end the electricity crisis in Gaza, the Islamist movement said yesterday.
“A comprehensive agreement has been reached with Egyptian officials to put a permanent end to the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip,” Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said in a statement.
He said the deal was the result of “intensive” efforts by the Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, during talks with Egyptian officials and the Islamic Development Bank.
The deal comes after the sole power plant in the impoverished territory was forced to shut down after running out of fuel -a long-standing issue in Gaza, where an Israeli blockade limits imports and exports.
Nunu said the deal involved three stages, the first of which would see Egyptian companies pumping fuel directly to Gaza under the terms of contracts signed with the firms.
“The prices will be international prices and the fuel will be transferred in a way Egypt deems appropriate,” the statement said.
The second part of the agreement will see the Islamic Development Bank fund a project to upgrade and increase the capacity of Gaza’s power plant by 40 megawatts, it added.
The third phase of the deal will see Gaza’s electricity grid connected to Egypt’s and will seek to convert its power plant, which currently supplies around a third of the Strip’s electricity, from diesel to gas.
Nunu said the Islamic Development Bank, founded by members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, would contribute $32.5 million (24.5 million euros).
Also yesterday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it had delivered 150,000 liters of diesel to Gaza’s health ministry.
“The fuel will help 13 public hospitals maintain essential health services for the next 10 days,” the group said, adding that hospitals in the territory were now relying on generators for up to 18 hours a day.
Gaza has long suffered outages because of shortages at its power plant, which has a maximum capacity of 140 megawatts but for some years has only been able to generate around half of that when operational.