Despair again in Gaza after Israel halts UN deal to supply fuel for electricity

GAZA CITY: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip spoke of their despair on Saturday after Israel halted a deal to supply fuel to generate electricity.

Thousands of liters of fuel had been trucked into Gaza every day under the UN-brokered agreement, but Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the deliveries to stop after clashes on the Gaza-Israel border.

“The current political situation does not seem to allow us to live like other people in the world,” blacksmith Mohammed Kabariti told Arab News. “I was happy when they announced about increasing electricity, but now I’m disappointed.”

Gaza has mains electricity for only about four hours a day because of a shortage of fuel. The fuel deal was reached without the agreement of the officially recognized Palestinian government in Ramallah, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

A senior Palestinian Authority official said last week it would no longer work with the UN envoy who brokered the deal.

Efforts were made to convince Abbas to agree to the fuel deal, UN and diplomatic sources said, with a decision ultimately made to work around him. “The humanitarian imperative is more important than the relationship with the PA,” one diplomat said.

Abu Ahmed Al-Sirsawi, who owns a grocery store in Gaza, told Arab News: “As long as the dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continues, we will not be able to have a stable electricity supply. We need reconciliation.”

Seven Palestinians were killed on Friday by Israeli army snipers as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the eastern border. The death toll since March 30 is now more than 200, including women and children.

Egypt and the UN had sought a deal whereby Hamas ended the protests in exchange for an easing of Israel’s crippling blockade.

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