Khaleej Times
June 4, 2008 - 5:38pm

For the past five days Abdullah Naqbil has been waiting outside the car he parked at a service station fuel pump, planning to be the first person served when the next shipment of diesel arrives.

‘Sometimes I even sleep in the car,’ he says as he sits on the sidewalk.

Barely 20 of Gaza's 160 petrol stations are open, and then only when they receive fuel from Israel, which has blockaded the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.

The fuel shortages are compounded by Palestinian attacks on crossings into Gaza that have forced them to close for several days at a time and by strikes in recent months at petrol stations protesting the limited supplies.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which seized control of the territory last June, set up a fuel rationing system last month in a bid to cope with the shortages and, some say, to fill its own coffers.

In order to get fuel legally, car owners must register their vehicles with the Hamas-run authorities and pay an annual fee of 1,500 shekels (460 dollars) just for the ration cards. The fuel itself is extra.

Quantities are strictly limited: 20 litres (5.3 gallons) of diesel every two weeks for private vehicles, 30 litres (7.9 gallons) per week for commercial vehicles and 40 litres (10.5 gallons) a week for taxis.


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