Smugglers pump cooking gas into Gaza

December 19th, 2008 - 8:12 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, Dec 19 (DPA) Palestinian smugglers have for the first time succeeded in pumping cooking gas into the Gaza Strip via pipelines installed in an underground tunnel, tunnel owners said Thursday.The tunnel owners have been trying to lay pipes in their tunnels for pumping gas into the strip for months, but had thus far been unsuccessful. Several pipes even exploded, causing injuries.

Wednesday, a trial pumping finally succeeded and small amounts of gas flowed through the new copper lines laid out in a tunnel dug for this purpose, said the tunnel owners, who asked not to be named.

The gas smugglers, sponsored by Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip, plan to increase the amounts of gas pumped into Gaza after the trial succeeded, they added.

A vast network of tunnels stretches out under the Gaza-Egypt border town of Rafah, through which Palestinians smuggle scarce goods ranging from cigarettes to jerrycans with petrol. The number of tunnels is currently estimated at 400.

Thus far, Palestinian smugglers brought gas for household use into the strip via the tunnels in balloons weighing 12-15 km, an expensive operation that pushed up the price of gas cylinders to over $100 a piece.

Since it imposed a tight economic blockade on the strip in response to rocket attacks, Israel has allowed only limited amounts of cooking gas and industrial diesel for Gaza’s power plant through its border crossings with the enclave.

It has restricted other types of fuel, including petrol for private cars.

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