(JTA) — The United Nations began distributing fuel in Gaza to keep critical infrastructure running, an official said.
“Fuel is actually coming in, as of today, through the Kerem Shalom,” a border crossing with Israel, U.N. Middle East Special Coordinator Robert Serry told a news conference in northern Gaza Thursday.
The fuel, he told the AFP news agency, was purchased by UNRWA, the United Nation’s agency for working with Palestinian refugees, he added.
“That doesn’t resolve the fuel crisis in Gaza, but it does provide a safety net, we hope, for the coming two to three months for those critical installations here,” he said.
Serry’s announcement came as the Islamist Hamas-run Palestinian territory suffers the most serious fuel crisis in its history, with daily power outages of up to 16 hours, AFP reports.
Hugh Robertson, the minister responsible for the Middle East at Britain’s Foreign Office, said in a statement that, “It is profoundly disappointing that the living conditions for the 1.7 million civilians inside Gaza have, if anything, deteriorated.
“We call on the Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian authorities to work together to ensure that the efforts to shut down smuggling tunnels are accompanied by equally determined efforts to open up legal trade,” he said.
On Nov. 1, Hamas’s energy authority announced that Gaza’s sole power plant, which supplies 30 percent of its electricity needs, had stopped working because there was not enough fuel to power it.
The shortage has resulted in the shutdown of sewage treatment facilities.
Hamas has blamed the power outage on Egypt’s destruction of cross-border tunnels used for bringing in diesel and has also accused the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of charging inflated prices for fuel.