By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
"Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza City and its neighbouring refugee camps were sweltering without fans or air conditioners in the high-summer heat and humidity yesterday after the European Union stopped paying for the oil to drive the power stations.
Israel reopened the Nahal Oz fuel terminal after a three-day closure it blamed on security threats from Palestinian militants. Dor Alon, the Israeli company which supplies the oil, was ready to renew deliveries, but wanted to make sure it would be paid.
European donors, who used to foot the bill as part of an international aid programme, said they had decided not to continue to do so. A statement issued by the European Commission's Tel Aviv office said: "We're reassessing this operation in order to see how to proceed. A decision will be made in the near future."
The Gaza Generating Company, which supplies 25 per cent of Gaza's electricity, shut down all four of its power stations. Another 60 per cent of the electricity comes from the Israeli grid and the rest from Egypt. A senior official said last night that they hoped to spread the burden so that everyone had power eight hours on and eight hours off.
As the temperature topped 90F, Mohammed Khalaf, a 45-year-old father of five, complained: "Nobody can live without electricity in this heat. I have no water in my home. We live on the third floor. There is no power to pump it up. If this continues, we're going to suffer even more. I hope this is not political."
Hamas denounced the European decision as part of an economic siege tightened since the Islamic movement seized control of Gaza two months ago. Yihyeh Mousa, a Hamas spokesman, accused President Mahmoud Abbas's emergency government in Ramallah of conspiring with the international community to isolate the strip and penalise its 1.4 million people.
He insisted the power stations operated independently of the Hamas administration. "We invite the European Union to come and investigate," he said. "We have nothing to do with the power stations or the distribution of electricity. The company has its own agreements."....."