Short on fuel, Gazans use car batteries to restart power plant
Palestinian official: Israel allows cooking gas into Gaza for first time in weeks; shipment of 70 tons expected.
Power returned to large parts of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Wednesday when Palestinian workers figured out a way to use car batteries to help restart the territory's sole power plant.
Special batteries normally used to help run the plant died earlier this week, preventing it from restarting after Israel allowed limited amounts of fuel into the impoverished coastal enclave.
A director at the plant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the workers devised a solution to the problem by hooking generators up to 170 car batteries.
"Thank God," the director said. "It's working."
He said the Palestinians had requested permission from Israel to import the special batteries used at the plant. But it was unclear if and when the batteries will arrive.
Israel has largely kept border crossings with Gaza closed since a bloody army raid on November 4, which triggered a surge in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.
Israel allowed European Union-funded fuel into Gaza for the power plant on Monday and Wednesday. The local plant generates about a third of the electricity consumed by Gazans. The rest comes from Israel, which was continuing supply, and Egypt.
Palestinian fuel official Mahmoud Khazundar said shipments began Wednesday morning and that 70 tons were expected to enter the territory. He went on to say that the shipment was only a fraction of what Gaza's residents require.
Israel sealed its border crossings with Gaza on November 4, after clashes with Palestinian militants. Since then, only vital humanitarian aid has been allowed to pass through the crossings into the impoverished territory.
The cooking gas shortage has affected many Gazans, forcing some bakeries to close and families to cook using diesel or wood. The Strip has also experienced numerous blackouts due to a shortage of fuel for its power plant.
Some 10 trucks carrying aid and basic supplies also entered Gaza on Wednesday.