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Gaza power plant boosts output as fuel deal takes hold

The Gaza Strip's sole power plant in Nuseirat (AFP Photo/SAID KHATIB)

Jerusalem (AFP) - The sole power plant in the Gaza Strip reached its highest production level in months on Thursday, the United Nations said, as part of a deal to overcome chronic power cuts.

"Today the second turbine of the Gaza power plant starts producing 52 MW, alleviating the suffering of two million Palestinians in Gaza," UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who helped broker the deal, said on Twitter.

Mladenov said Thursday's supply reached 172 megawatts, the highest since January 21 although far from the 500 megawatts needed for the strip to have full power.

Qatar earlier this month agreed to pay $60 million for fuel to be delivered to the plant over a period of six months, allowing it to increase operations.

UN officials hope the deal could significantly increase electricity rates in Gaza, where residents receive only a few hours of mains power a day.

It could also help calm tensions between Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel.

Fuel deliveries were temporarily suspended by Israel over violence emanating from the strip but resumed Wednesday.

Fifteen trucks carrying around 500,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza on Thursday, an official said on condition of anonymity.

The fuel deal was brokered through the UN without the involvement of the Palestinian Authority, the internationally-recognised Palestinian government which is based in the occupied West Bank.