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Gaza blackout raises fears of humanitarian crisis

By Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan (Xinhua)

10:48, February 16, 2012

GAZA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian officials and Gaza-based right groups warned on Wednesday of a severe humanitarian crisis after a power plant, responsible for 35 percent of Gazans' needs, had stopped generation due to a fuel shortage.

Mohamed Abu Daff, chief of a committee working to lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza, said the world's humanitarian organizations "must intervene to end the ongoing crisis".

He made the remarks during his speech addressing the Gazan children who were protesting the frequent power outage in the coastal enclave.

Outside the United Nations headquarters in Gaza city, dozens of children waved Palestinian flags, held posters urging international help, and chanted slogans condemning the humiliation they are subjected to.

Representatives from Gaza's health and education sectors as well as students joined the children's demonstration.

Abu Daf called on the Arab countries, mainly Egypt, to immediately intervene and help the Gazans to put an end to the frequent blackout that affects all aspects of their lives.

The power crisis reminds the narrow and poor enclave of the tight blockade imposed by Israel after the Islamic Hamas movement seized control of it in June 2007. Although Israel eased some restrictions of the blockade in June 2010, essential border crossings are still under tight control.

The crisis, according to some Palestinian officials, goes back as far as two weeks ago, when the smuggled industrial fuel for power generation started to decline in its amount of inflow.

The shortage of the fuel, which is brought in from Egypt though underground tunnels, affected not only the power station but also the gas stations, where a real humanitarian crisis is imminent. Oil product is rare in Gaza and few vehicles are seen driving in the streets.

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