GAZA CITY: Qatari-bought fuel arrived at the Gaza Strip’s only power station after entering through Israel on Tuesday in a bid to alleviate conditions in the Palestinian enclave, a Hamas spokesman and sources said.
The delivery could help ease months of protests and clashes along the border between Israel and Hamas-run Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
But it was met with criticism by officials close to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose rival administration was not involved.
UN officials and Egypt have in recent weeks pursued indirect talks between Islamist movement Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials however refused comment on the delivery.
A Palestinian source at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza — the only goods crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel — said six trucks carrying 450,000 litres of fuel crossed Tuesday.
AFP journalists saw at least one truck arriving at the power station in Gaza City.
“The Qatari fuel to the Gaza Strip’s power plant today is aimed at partially improving electricity (supply) in Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told AFP.
For months residents of the strip have been receiving only four hours of mains electricity a day on average.
The United Nations has warned that Israel’s 11-year blockade of the strip has resulted in a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation.
Under the UN-brokered deal, Qatar pays for the fuel which is then delivered through Israel with United Nations monitoring, a diplomatic source said.
In a statement Tuesday Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official close to Abbas, threatened retaliatory measures if the fuel deliveries continued.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in a 2007 near civil war.
Multiple reconciliation attempts aimed at restoring the PA to power in Gaza have failed.
Qassem said that the deliveries were facilitated “through the United Nations because of the vacuum left by the PA.”