Palestinians wait to fill containers with fuel at a petrol station in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip February 19, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
A delivery of 30 million litres of Qatari fuel, which was to have entered Gaza on Sunday, has been delayed yet again, officials said, prompting an angry reaction from the Palestinian energy authority.
The Hamas-run Gaza Strip has been living through its worst electricity crisis in living memory, with the Qatari shipment expected to help ease the situation.
But Raed Fatuh, head coordinator for the Palestinian Authority at the Kerem Shalom crossing between southern Gaza and Israel, told AFP the delay was the result of "technical issues" on the Egyptian side.
He said delivery of the fuel, which is to be transported through Egypt's Al-Awja crossing and into southern Israel, then into Gaza through Kerem Shalom, would take place on Tuesday.
It was the third such delay in less than three weeks and prompted an angry outburst by the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA), which said the shipment had been sitting in the dock at the Egyptian port of Suez "for a month and a half."
"There has been a change of roles between the Israelis and the Egyptians in suffocating the Palestinian people and continuing the siege on Gaza," a statement posted on the PENRA website said.
"This continued delay in the arrival of the Qatari fuel will extend the electricity crisis in Gaza, especially with summer approaching."
Last month, Israel gave the green light for the fuel to be transferred through its territory after receiving a request from the Egyptians, an Israeli security official said.
The Gaza power crisis was sparked by a fall in supplies of fuel smuggled in from Egypt, forcing the closure of the coastal territory's sole power plant and causing power cuts of up to 18 hours a day.
The situation was eased somewhat in April after a deal between Gaza's Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which agreed to supply Gaza with fuel purchased from Israel.