Political power-struggle leaves Gaza in blackout

16:30, April 11, 2010      

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More than half of Gaza homes do not have electricity as the only power plant in the coastal enclave was shut down Friday due to a lack of fuel.

Wider areas than ever had been seen in blackout at nights as warnings of a humanitarian crisis in the 1.5-million-inhabitant territory mounted.

This time, the problem was a result of internal political difference between Gaza's Hamas rulers and the Western-backed government based in the West Bank, officials said.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) says it pays Israel for fuel shipments to Gaza but wants Hamas, which controls the power distribution company that collects money from people in Gaza, to take part in paying for the industrial diesel.

"We spare no efforts to resolve the problem but we can't always meet all commitments," Ghassan Al-Khatib, spokesman for the government in Ramallah, told Xinhua.

Al-Khatib explained that the PNA has been covering two-thirds of the diesel's bill since November last year after the European Union stopped doing this because it decided to allocate more money to support poor families.

"The Gaza power company doesn't send the money it levies to the PNA's treasury and it is nonsense that the Ramallah government pays for the fuel alone," he said.

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