ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish shipbuilder Karadeniz Holding plans to send an electricity generating vessel to Gaza to provide urgently needed power in the enclave left reeling by an Israeli bombing campaign that began last month.
Karadeniz announced its intentions on Tuesday, shortly after Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that a power ship - a floating power station - would be sent as soon as Gaza’s port facilities had been upgraded.
“The Palestinians have contacted the Israelis concerning the dispatching of the platform and there has been no adverse reaction from the Israeli side,” Yildiz said at a joint press conference in Ankara after a meeting with Palestinian Energy Minister Omar Kittaneh
Israel began military operations in Gaza on July 8 in response to rockets being fired into Israeli territory by fighters loyal to Islamist group Hamas.
The bombardment has left much of the enclave’s already fragile infrastructure in tatters, sparking warnings from the United Nations over spiraling prices and food shortages.
Karadeniz said in a statement to Reuters that it had received a request from the Palestinian authorities and that the ship would be sent within 120 days, once necessary approvals had been obtained.
The Istanbul-based company, the world’s only manufacturer of self-propelled floating power stations, already produces electricity for Iraq and Lebanon, part of its fleet of seven power ships with a combined capacity of 1,200 megawatts.
Gaza’s 1.8 million residents suffer from blackouts for as many as 20 hours a day. The enclave’s only power plant is regularly switched off for weeks at a time because of fuel shortages.
The Israeli and Palestinian authorities on Tuesday extended a five-day ceasefire that brought a pause in a conflict that has already claimed more than 2,000 lives, most of them civilians, according to Palestinian officials.
Reporting by Evrim Ergin; Writing by Seda Sezer and Jonny Hogg; Editing by Nick Tattersall and David Goodman