Archive | July 21, 2015

Wildfires Rage across Greece*

Wildfires Rage across Greece*

By Alan Taylor

Around Athens and in other parts of southern Greece, about 50 forest fires have broken out in recent days, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures, sending clouds of smoke billowing over the city and forcing hundreds of residents to flee from flames threatening their homes. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece had requested help from his country’s army and air force, as well as the European emergency response centre, to fight the blazes.

A firefighting plane drops water over a fire near holiday homes in Costa village, in the Argolida region in southeastern Greece, during a developing wildfire on July 20, 2015. Dozens of people were evacuated as firefighters fought the fire, which broke out on Monday afternoon in Panorama in Costa village at a forested area where dozens of summer houses are located, according to local media


A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire in Athens on July 17, 2015


A firefighting helicopter flies over smoke billowing over Athens on July 17, 2015, as firemen battle a brush fire in northeastern Athens and another wildfire in the southern Peloponnese peninsula that prompted the evacuation of five villages.


A fire burns on the mountain of Ymittos, in the eastern suburbs of Athens, on July 17, 2015 Thanassis Stavrakis / AP


Flames rise next to a fire truck as a wildfire rages at the village of Neapoli on July 17, 2015 Vassilis Konstantopoulos / Intime / Reuters


Local residents try to extinguish a wildfire raging at the village of Neapoli on July 17, 2015 Panagiotis Kouros / Eurokinissi / Reuters

Local residents try to extinguish a wildfire raging at the village of Neapoli on July 17, 2015

Panagiotis Kouros / Eurokinissi / Reuters


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Israel Blocking Repair of Gaza Electricity Grids*

Israel Blocking Repair of Gaza Electricity Grids*

Israeli authorities have prevented Israeli power firm from repairing electricity grids supplying Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said on Monday.
A ‘technical error’ in the Israeli side cut off two main power grids supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip over the weekend. The down lines provide 25% or 30 megawatts, of the electricity that the Israeli occupation sells to the Strip.

Power grid No. 8, which provides electricity to central Gaza and parts of Khan Younis, shut down three days ago, and Al-Qubba grid, which provides electricity to the Gaza City, shut down on Sunday, according to Days of Palestine.

Officials of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company said the company is attempting to cooperate with the Palestinian Power Authority to repair the broken grids, but said the Israeli occupation is obstructing their efforts.

Meanwhile, the occupation also is preventing the Israeli Electricity Corporation from fixing the grids on the grounds of security concerns.

Gaza currently receives electricity from the Israeli occupation, Egypt, and a power station inside Gaza.

However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While the three suppliers provide 230 MW of electricity, the UN estimates that this meets only half of Gaza’s needs.

The Israeli occupation and Egypt have maintained a severe blockade of the Gaza Strip for the last eight years that has crippled the coastal enclave’s economy by limiting imports, exports and movement of people.

Although the power plant inside Gaza has a potential output of 120 MW, it has been unable to produce that much due to Israeli restrictions on fuel imports and high taxes imposed by the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.

Therefore, the Gaza plant generally produces around 60 MW, 50 percent of its potential.

Last summer the plant was targeted during the 51-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, completely knocking it out of commission. The Gaza power authority said at the time that the damages from the attack could take up to a year to fix completely.

Gaza suffers 12 hours of power outages each day. Many individual homes have their own generators, and households can purchase extremely expensive fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption.

Plant threatened with closure

The plant will stop running Monday evening as it is unable to cover taxes imposed by the national unity government, Gaza’s energy authority said, according to Ma’an News Agency.

The unity government waved the tax in a show of good will in the four months to the end of Ramadan, but the Gazan energy authority said in a statement Monday that since the tax has been reinstated it can no longer afford to keep the plant running.

The energy authority added that it had only been able to cover the cost of maintaining the plant during the holy Muslim month of Ramadhan and the ‘Eid holiday by borrowing from local companies and taking loans from banks.


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