Israel to shut down Gaza’s main fuel terminal 22Oct09 October 23, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  22 October 2009

50967Israel intends to gradually close the Nahal Oz crossing terminal along the border with the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian border official confirmed on Thursday.

“The decision… was Israel’s, and it’s ultimately up to the occupation, whether or not Palestinians object,” said Raed Fattouh, the Gaza crossings representative.

The official said Israeli authorities were already transferring equipment that pumps fuel to the Kerem Shalom crossing in preparation for the shutting down Nahal Oz.

Army Radio reported that the decision was taken several months earlier, but announced on Thursday that Israel planned to transfer Nahal’s responsibilities to Kerem Shalom, which would become the main terminal. Nahal Oz is presently the main fuel terminal.

According to Fattouh, the Israelis recently began pumping large quantities of industrial fuel through the Kerem Shalom terminal as an experiment, which was later deemed successful.

However, the official noted, closing Nahal Oz would violate previously signed economic agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and particularly the terms of the Palestinian Authority’s establishment.

Fattouh added that the PA-Israel agreements determined Palestinians were guaranteed a role in operating the Nahal Oz crossing, but not Kerem Shalom since it is on Israeli territory, so shutting down the former would be a de facto violation of the agreement on fuel transfers.

He said the Nahal Oz would be entirely non-operational by 1 November.

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