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Wed 23 Apr 2008 02:07 PM

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Gaza power plant saved from closure

Israel resumes fuel shipments at the 11th hour after fears utility would be forced into shutdown.

Gaza power plant saved from closure
FRESH SUPPLIES: Israel said on Wednesday it would transfer a million litres of fuel for Gazas sole power plant. (AFP)

Israel on Wednesday resumed fuel shipments to the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said a day after the utility warned that supplies were so low it would have to shut down.

"A million litres of fuel for the central power plant are being transferred today through Nahal Oz, which opened this morning," said an army spokeswoman, referring to the fuel terminal on the Israeli border with northern Gaza.

Israel cut fuel supplies for Gaza's power plant by half and halted the supply of petrol and diesel after Palestinian militants attacked the terminal two weeks ago, killing two Israeli civilian employees.

It resumed shipments of fuel for the plant several days later, but stopped deliveries again last week after another attack killed three Israeli soldiers near Nahal Oz.

On Tuesday Kanaan Obeid, vice president of Gaza's power authority, warned that the plant's fuel supply would last only another 30 hours, which would mean it would have to shut down on Wednesday night.

The Gisha Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement sent a request to Israel's attorney general warning that the cuts "violate the state's commitment to the Israeli supreme court to permit a minimum amount of fuel to enter Gaza."

The plant provides around 30% of the territory's electricity, with most of the rest supplied from Israel and a small amount from Egypt.

Israel slapped a punishing blockade on Gaza after the Islamist Hamas movement, which refuses to recognise the Jewish state, seized control of the territory in June.

In the past two weeks Palestinian militants have attacked border crossings five times.

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