A second turbine in the Gaza Strip's only power plant started operating yesterday, bringing much-needed electricity to the blockaded coastal enclave.
Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, said that second turbine will produce 52 megawatts of electricity, giving Gaza a total supply of 172 megawatts, the highest electricity output since January. The increase in electricity comes after Qatar delivered fuel to the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt. Qatar promised on Sunday to eventually deliver enough fuel to increase electricity output from eight to 16 hours a day. The Qatari fuel shipment was a potential slap to the Western-backed Abbas's administration, which opposed the foreign relief plan. Gaza is controlled by Abbas's rival, the Hamas resistance group and the Palestinian president has been using economic pressure in order to wrest back control.
Two turbines in the power plant remain inactive. According to Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, the Gaza Strip needs a total of 280 megawatts during peak demand in summer and winter. Already squeezed by the more than decade-long Israeli blockade, Gaza's economy has been further weakened by U.S. aid cuts and financial measures. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. The cash-starved plant has been providing Gazans with only around four hours of electricity each day.
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