GAZA, (Reuters) – The Gaza Strip’s main power plant will have to halt electricity supplies if Israel does not allow the resumption of fuel shipments to the Hamas-run territory in the next few days, the plant’s director said on Saturday.
Israel halted fuel supplies to Gaza on Thursday, a day after Palestinian militants attacked a border crossing used to pump fuel to the costal enclave’s main power plant. “In a few days, if the fuel supplies … are not resumed we will be forced to shut down the entire power plant,” Rafiq Maliha, the plant’s director, told reporters. “This means we will stop feeding electricity to over half a million people living in Gaza.”
The impoverished Gaza Strip is home to 1.5 million people, most of whom are dependent on aid.
The plant provides about a third of Gaza’s electricity.
Israel provides the rest with a small amount coming from Egypt.
The European Union, which provides fuel to the plant, said it estimated the facility should have enough fuel to last just over a week. An EU official said he was waiting for approval from the Israeli army to resume shipments on Sunday.
Israel tightened restrictions on Gaza last year after Hamas Islamists seized control of the enclave following fighting with forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. Fuel shipments have been limited as part of the Israeli-led blockade.
A spokesman for Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza said no fuel was pumped from the terminal on Thursday or Friday. He had no information about when shipments would be resumed.
Two Israeli civilians were killed in Wednesday’s attack on the fuel terminal at Nahal Oz. Fighters from three militant groups — not including Hamas — infiltrated the terminal and said the attack was aimed at abducting soldiers.
Seven Palestinian militants and six civilians have died during Israeli army raids on the Gaza Strip since the assault.
Separately, Hamas reiterated on Saturday that Israel faced “an explosion” if it did not ease its blockade of Gaza.
But the group said it would not attack Gaza’s border with Egypt. In January, Hamas militants blasted through the border fence with Egypt in defiance of the Israeli-led blockade.