Gaza fuel shortage sparks power blackouts

Story highlights

  • Report: Gaza's only power plant shuts down due to a fuel shortage
  • The crisis is inflaming political tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority
  • A Hamas leader says a "conspiracy" is behind the fuel shortage
  • The Palestinian Authority says it is trying to negotiate an agreement with officials in Cairo

Political leaders in Gaza are sparring over a fuel shortage that has prompted rolling power blackouts and protests there.

Gaza's only power plant has been forced to shut down due to the fuel shortage, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported Sunday.

The weeks-long crisis is inflaming political tensions between Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

Leaders of the rival factions are trading accusations over the shortage, accusing each other of negligence.

"The Palestinian people are subjected to a conspiracy to break the will of the people," Hamas leader Khalil Haya told CNN.

Hamas officials did not attend a weekend meeting scheduled with officials in Cairo aimed at resolving the crisis, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

"The meeting was supposed to agree on a mechanism to provide stable fuel supplies to Gaza's only power plant and make arrangements for making the payment," WAFA said, reporting that the Palestinian Authority's prime minister "expressed regret" that Hamas did not attend.

    Meanwhile, officials said Sunday that the 12-hour rolling blackouts will likely continue.

    Hospitals can't provide adequate medical services and students are studying by candlelight, Gaza resident Riza al-Gharableh said, describing the situation as "the most difficult times under the siege."

    An Israeli fuel shipment into Gaza on Friday temporarily eased the shortage. But the power plant shut down Sunday after that 450,000-liter supply ran out, Ma'an reported.

    "The chronic electricity deficit affecting Gaza over the past few years has disrupted the delivery of basic services and undermined already vulnerable livelihoods and living conditions," said a report this month from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "Since February 2012, the situation has further deteriorated following a sharp decline in the amount of fuel unofficially brought into Gaza from Egypt, via the tunnels, and used to operate the (Gaza Power Plant)."