Southern Gaza Strip left in blackout after Egypt disconnects last power line

12:00 May 14 2016 Southern Gaza

GAZA (Ma'an) -- The last power line from Egypt to the besieged Gaza Strip was disconnected on Saturday after reported damage, exacerbating an already severe electricity shortage in the southern Gaza Strip, and leaving the areas of Rafah and Khan Yunis in a full electric blackout.

The two lines which feed electricity to the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt, at a capacity of 20-24 megawatts, have been completely disconnected, Gaza’s electricity company announced.

One of the connecting lines was disabled two weeks ago, leading Gaza’s electricity company to announce an electricity rationing of six hour intervals followed by 12 hours without power for all districts in Gaza, as the company could only operate one of their four generators. The recent damage and subsequent disconnection cut the last of the two connecting lines providing electricity to the southern part of the besieged enclave.

The Gaza Strip was left almost entirely without power during a number of days last month due to maintenance work on power lines from both Israel and Egypt as well as the ongoing tax disputes on fuel for the enclave’s near-defunct power station.

Palestinian officials announced at the end of April the Gaza Strip would be exempted from paying fuel tax this summer, marking a temporary resolution to the tax dispute that has deepened an electricity crisis in the besieged enclave.

The 80 to 100 percent exemption on fuel tax was expected to go into effect May 1 to continue until the end of the summer, intended to guarantee Gaza eight hours of electricity per day from the besieged enclave's sole power plant.

The power plant -- alongside Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids -- fail to cover the territory's energy needs and has suffered from chronic fuel shortages due to Israel's near-decade long blockade that is upheld by Egypt.

War has also taken its toll, and during Israel's 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.
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