International aid agency Oxfam International warns that households, bakeries and hospitals in Gaza will be left short of cooking gas as the major annual festival of Eid al-Adha begins this Friday. Oxfam calls on Israeli authorities to allow in the daily needed quantities of cooking gas so that the needs of Gazans are met and stocks are replenished.
Five out of ten households Oxfam talked to on Sunday reported running out of cooking gas. Some bakeries had closed down at the week-end, while the others said they were using up their last reserves. The Ministry of Health said it was receiving only one third of its cooking gas needs, meaning some hospitals might have to close cooking and laundry facilities within a few days if the shortage continues, which would have a significant impact on hygiene.
“The people of Gaza should not have to celebrate Eid without being able to cook because their cooking gas supplies have run out,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs. “Limiting the cooking gas needed by families, bakeries and hospitals is collective punishment and must stop.”
With winter started, the need for cooking gas is increasing for households, bakeries, hospitals and farms in Gaza. Reductions in cooking gas supplies and the resulting shut down of many Gaza bakeries already happened last year in the run up to Israeli military operation 'Cast Lead.' Farmers fear a repeat of last November when over 400,000 poultry chicks had to be killed because there was no cooking gas for heaters to keep the chicks alive.
“Families have the right to cook hot meals, buy bread and keep warm, especially now that winter has begun,” Hobbs added. “All available crossings need to operate at maximum capacity to supply cooking gas, to meet immediate needs and to replenish stocks.”
The Gaza union of gas station owners told Oxfam that the latest problem started over a month ago, when the Israeli authorities began to shift the transfer of cooking gas into Gaza from the usual Nahal Oz fuel terminal to the Kerem Shalom crossing, stating their decision was made on security grounds. However Kerem Shalom lacks the capacity to transfer the necessary quantities of cooking gas into Gaza.
According to the Gaza union of gas station owners, the 1.5 million population of the Strip needs 4,500 tons of gas per month in summer, and 6,000 tons in winter. In September, a total of 2,500 tons of gas were transferred to Gaza, dropping to 1,700 in October and 697 tons to date in November. Despite the shortage, no cooking gas was transferred on Monday 23 November.
The Nahal Oz fuel terminal has two pipelines and offers storage capacity. It has handled up to 400 tons a day. The new crossing pipeline at Kerem Shalom has a maximum capacity of 100 tons a day only, and no storage capacity.
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