EU to resume aid to Gaza after 5 days without fuel power

Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip &#8212 The European Union said Tuesday it will resume vital fuel aid to the Gaza Strip’s electric company, bringing a measure of relief to Palestinians who have sweltered at home or choked on generator smoke for five days.

The EU had suspended payments for the fuel that powers major Gaza electricity generators on Sunday, suspecting the strip’s Hamas rulers were pocketing electricity revenues. On Tuesday, the bloc announced that fuel shipments to the power plant would resume the following day.

Hamas denied skimming money, saying the allegations were an attempt by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government in the West Bank to discredit the Islamic group.

The fuel cutoff, which began Friday, left at least half of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents in the dark and without fans as temperatures soared to 95 degrees.

The electricity outage began after Israel closed a fuel crossing with Gaza, citing security threats. Although Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, the fuel shipments were not renewed because the EU stopped paying the Israeli supplier.

The Israeli fuel vendor, Dor Alon, had no immediate comment on when supply might resume.

Without enough power to keep pumps going, water authorities began rationing water on Tuesday.

Shops in Gaza City’s main market set up noisy, smoke-spewing generators in the streets to run their lights. Families ran to the grocery stores every few hours to buy food because they couldn’t refrigerate.

Israeli and Egyptian utilities that power the rest of Gaza have stepped up production to alleviate the outages, but even with these stopgap measures, Gazans in affected areas were without power about 20 hours a day.