A shipment of 450,000 litres of gasoline and diesel fuel purchased by the Palestinian Authority will be sent into the Gaza Strip today, after Israel agreed the transfer. The transfer is meant to provide only temporary relief for Gaza’s fuel shortage, which began after Egypt cut off fuel supply to Gaza.
The fuel crisis began after Hamas decided last year to use smuggled fuel to run the territory’s only power plant instead of paying for more expensive fuel through an Israeli cargo crossing. Several weeks ago, the flow of smuggled Egyptian fuel began to slow, as Egypt was itself suffering shortages, and grew agitated that Hamas was profiting by imposing tariffs on subsidised fuel meant for Egyptians.
Gaza’s main power plant shut down on 10 February and has been mostly offline since. Fuel reserves gradually ran low, and major gas stations in Gaza City closed several days ago.
Hamas has attempted to leverage the crisis to get Egypt to open a direct trade route with Gaza. Egypt, however, refuses to regularly open the Gaza-Sinai crossing in Rafah for trade, arguing that Israel bears sole responsibility for Gaza.