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Fuel reaches power-starved Gaza via Israel

Electricity shortages in Gaza Strip reveal darkening Egypt-Hamas relations.

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The sun sets next to the main Palestinian electricity company in Al-Nusairat, Gaza Strip. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)

The Gaza Strip received fuel supplies by way of Israel today, a rare move prompted by a huge power shortage that has left over a million people without electricity for 18-hour stretches and gas pumps standing empty for weeks, reported the Associated Press.

An official from Gaza's energy authority told Reuters that today's delivery will power one plant with service to two-third's of the population for one day.

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The fuel crisis has been escalating for weeks, starting with Egypt's decision to halt supplies in order to offset its own shortages. 

Cairo has also clamped down on border smuggling, a method commonly used as main source of fuel supply for the strip's one power plant, according to Reuters

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Gaza's 1.6 million people are suffering major blackouts amid ongoing negotiations. Egypt has said its fuel deliveries to Gaza must go through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing, by which supplies reached the area today, said AP

The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority arranged today's 450,000-liter diesel delivery with the Israelis, with whom they maintain relations -- marking the first Israeli-involved transfer in nearly a year, according to Reuters.

But the territory's other de facto rulers are Hamas militants, whose takover in 2007 lead to a stand-off with Israel based on shared emnity.

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, has rejected Egypt's proposed fuel supply plan, said Reuters, citing fears Israelis will use the arrangement to manipulate the militant group.

Hamas has instead pushed for direct trade with Egypt, said Reuters, but Cairo – whose relationship with Hamas is unclear, having backed their rival Fatah in the past – has not agreed.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120323/fuel-reaches-power-starved-gaza-israel