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Qatari fuel enters blockaded Gaza, easing shortages

Oil trucks seen entering the blockaded Gaza Strip [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 October, 2018

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Gaza residents have been living on only four hours of electricity a day as part of Israel's decade-plus blockade of the Hamas-run enclave.

Qatari-bought fuel arrived at the Gaza Strip's only power station on Tuesday in a bid to alleviate fuel and other shortages in the blockaded enclave, a Hamas official said.

The delivery could help ease a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.

However, the rival West Bank-based administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticised the shipment. 

UN officials and Egypt have in recent weeks pursued indirect talks between the Islamist movement Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials however refused to 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 said.

For months residents of the strip have on average been receiving only four hours of mains electricity a day.

Under the UN-brokered deal, Qatar pays for the fuel which is then delivered through Israel with UN 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.

Abbas says that making deals with Hamas amounts to recognising their control over Gaza in place of the PA.

Israel says its blockade of Gaza is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has launched three wars against since 2008 to weed out the group. 

The recent unrest along the Gaza separation fence, which has seen Israeli forces fire live ammo at unarmed Palestinian protesters, has raised fears of another war.

At least 195 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began in March, the majority at or near the border. One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in that period.

Palestinians and human rights groups say protesters have been shot while posing no real threat to Israeli lives.

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