Gaza's power plant lights up again

GAZA, March 17 Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:45am EDT

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GAZA, March 17 (Reuters) - The Gaza Strip's sole power plant started up again on Monday after Israel allowed quantities of Qatari-paid fuel into the enclave to ease a power crisis, Palestinian officials said.

Gaza lacks much basic infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows but which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies.

On Saturday, the plant, a main source of electricity for Gaza's 1.8 million people, stopped due to fuel shortages, a move that extended daily blackouts from eight hours a day to 12.

Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian Authority coordinator of supplies into Gaza Strip, told Reuters that Israel allowed in 110,000 litres of fuel on Sunday for the plant and was pumping an additional 500,000 litres on Monday.

"The plant was put back into operation," Gaza Energy Authority's Ahmed Abu Al-Amrain said.

A few months ago the power plant was switched off for 43 days due to a fuel shortage when neighbouring Egypt closed off smuggling tunnels. Israel eventually allowed in fuel paid for by Qatar when a storm swept the region.

Qatar has now extended the financial aid by three months.

Electricity also comes directly to Gaza from Israel and Egypt.

The Gaza Strip is run by Islamist group Hamas, whose declared aim is to destroy Israel. The two sides have no direct dealings. (Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Louise Ireland)

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