Blast spurs Egypt to halt gas supply to Israel again

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt again has shut off its gas supply to Israel following an explosion on its pipeline in the Sinai.

The explosion early Wednesday morning rocked the area and caused 65-foot flames, according to reports.

While Egyptian officials would not speculate on the cause of the blast, a security source told Reuters that an unidentified armed gang attacked the pipeline.

Egypt supplies Israel with about 40 percent of its natural gas needs to produce electricity. The supply of gas from Egypt was shut off for a month and has not returned to full levels since terrorists in the Sinai tried to blow up the pipeline in February during the uprisings against deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. On March 27, explosives failed to detonate in a second attempt by terrorists to bomb the pipeline.

Israeli officials on Wednesday called for the country to find ways to reduce its dependency on other countries for gas and urged the government to quickly develop newly found gas fields off the coast of Israel.

The Israel Electric Company said it had enough gas in the pipeline for the next few days and then would switch to alternative fuels such as coal and diesel to produce electricity.

The supply of gas to Jordan also was interrupted.

The pipeline between Egypt and Israel opened in 2008. Selling gas to Israel has been unpopular on the Egyptian street since the opening of the pipeline.

Egyptian authorities have extended Mubarak’s detention to question him about the gas deal with Israel, in which Egypt lost more than $714 million, Egyptian prosecutors said. Candidates to replace Mubarak as president have said they plan to renegotiate the contract with Israel.
 

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