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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gaza hopes electricity line repair will ease blackouts

Published Sunday 04/12/2011 (updated) 05/12/2011 21:37
A view of the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip.
(MaanImages/Hatem Omar, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The main electricity line supplying Gaza has been repaired after two weeks of partial blackout in the blockaded strip, officials said Sunday.

The Israeli Electric Company which controls the sea line has fixed the broken connection that plunged Gaza residents into more than eight hour of power outages per day, Media Director at Gaza's electricity company Jamal al-Dardasawi told Ma'an.

He said the reconnection of the main supply to the coastal strip would enable energy from other Israeli suppliers to reach Gaza, but warned residents to ration their power usage due to ongoing shortages under Israel's blockade.

The coastal energy line cut out after 20 hours when it was last fixed on Nov. 17.

Gaza residents had warned that the electricity crisis was disastrous during the cold winter months, and complained that they are still being charged for electricity that they do not have access to.

Last week, the energy authority in Gaza accused Israel of deliberately disconnecting the main electricity grid to the coastal enclave as part of a "punitive policy."

"The Israeli occupation uses security pretexts to justify disconnecting a grid which provides 14 megawatts to the northern Gaza Strip," head of the energy authority Kanaan Ubeid said.

Israel continues to supply the Gaza Strip with water and 70 percent of its electrical power, the rest being supplied by neighboring Egypt or local power plants.

Israel had warned that it would cut the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip if rival parties Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government.

Al-Dardasawi told Ma'an on Saturday that breakdown of the Israeli supply line was just one factor in the ongoing energy crisis in the coastal strip.

The Gaza Strip needs investment and regional coordination in the energy sector in order to better prepare for the future, he said.

Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Hamas took control of the territory one year after winning national elections, ousting Fatah incumbents and splitting Palestinians into rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza's energy sector is crippled by Israel's ban on importing materials for locally-implemented construction, leaving power stations unable to function without crucial supplies and paralyzed after severe damage inflicted by Israel's 2009 war on the coastal strip.

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