Gaza’s only power plant ‘shuts down for lack of fuel’

Updated 18 March 2014
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Gaza’s only power plant ‘shuts down for lack of fuel’

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The Gaza Strip’s only power plant shut down Saturday due to a lack of fuel from Israel, which closed a goods crossing after militant rocket attacks, a Palestinian official said.
An Israeli official denied the claim, however, saying the lack of fuel was due to infighting between the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing and the Erez pedestrian crossing “until further security assessments.”
In response, the energy authority cut the plant’s operation from only 12 hours a day to six until the fuel ran out.
“The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel’s) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing,” said Fathi Al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory.
An Israeli official denied that the Jewish state was to blame.
The shortage of fuel “is the result of an internal conflict between the Hamas government (which controls Gaza) and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah,” said the source, on condition of anonymity and without elaborating.
“Kerem Shalom is always closed on Fridays and Saturdays, so it was only closed for an entire day on Thursday,” he said.
The PA helps facilitate the delivery of fuel to Gaza via Israel, which Hamas does not recognize.
The facility, which supplies some 30 percent of Gaza’s electricity needs, has been forced to shut down several times, most recently in December.


Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

Updated 7 min 3 sec ago
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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA, Iraq: A rocket struck the site of the residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding three people, Iraq’s military said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It came after two separate attacks in as many days on bases housing US military personnel in Iraq, as tension rose between the United States and Iran.
The rocket hit the Burjesia site west of the city, according to police and a statement released by the military. Police earlier said two Iraqi workers were wounded.
The United States evacuated hundreds of diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy last month, citing unspecified threats from Iran against US interests in neighboring Iraq, where Tehran supports some Shiite militias.
Wednesday’s incident came just as Exxon staff who were also evacuated after the diplomats’ departure had begun to return to Basra.
A security source said Exxon was evacuating 21 foreign staff immediately by plane to Dubai.
Oil officials said operations including exports from southern Iraq were not affected by the incident.
Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA, the oil officials said.
The rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile, the military said. Police said it landed 100 meters from the part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.
Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.
Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Iran in recent months and says it has sent additional forces to the region over tension with the Islamic Republic.
It blames Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Tehran denies it was involved.
Both sides say they do not want war, but analysts warn such incidents could escalate violence in the region.