22:26 GMT03 March 2021
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    A day after Hamas authorities said Turkey would donate fuel to ease Gaza's crippling power crisis, Qatar has also stepped in, donating $12 million to buy fuel for the Palestinian enclave's only power plant.

    Qatar's donation has already been put to use, and a third generator at the power plant began functioning January 16, according to the Hamas Energy Authority. The donation will help provide eight-hour cycles of electricity for Gaza for the next three months, the Daily Sabah reports.

    The energy crisis in Gaza has caused power to its population of nearly 2 million cut to a scant few hours a day after its power plant, already running at half capacity for years after being repeatedly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, shut down early in the month. Losing their already unreliable power, on top of a protracted water crisis and the stresses of life under Israel's blockade, drove Gazans to the streets last week in a rare show of anger against the Hamas leadership.

    Following last week's demonstrations and arrest, a 20-year-old Palestinian set himself on fire January 16 in front of the headquarters of the Society of Physically Handicapped People, a charity in the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, the Times of Israel reports. His motivations aren't known, but a handful of Gazans have self-immolated in the last few years, reportedly often motivated by poverty.

    Gaza's electricity demand is about 450 to 500 MegaWatts of power per day, but it receives far less. Its lone plant was producing about 30 MW, 30 MW more come from Egypt and 120 MW comes from Israel, according to Reuters. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank had paid for Israel and Egypt's power and exempted fuel transfers to Gaza from tax, but has reimposed taxes recently due to its own financial issues.

    Gaza's power company is rarely paid, and its debts make it unable to seek credit.

    Officials say rebuilding Gaza's power network would take $500 million, but even with funding, the blockade maintained around the enclave would make importing the necessary equipment difficult.

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    Tags:
    power plant, power, fuel, fuel shortage, Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Israel, Gaza Strip, Qatar
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