Israel cuts electricity supply to Gaza as Palestinian authorities accuse each other
The Palestinian Authority accuses Hamas of not paying its bill, pressing to reopen unity dialogue. Israeli minister says Israel would not pay for Gaza’s power supply. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis is worsening.
Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israel has announced that it will reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip by 40 per cent after the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to pay only 60 per cent of Gaza’s 40 million shekel (US.19 million) monthly bill.
This is expected to shorten by 45 minutes the daily average of four hours of power that Gaza receives.
Israel deducts the cost of electricity from the transfers of Palestinian tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA. Israel does not engage with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group.
The PA blames Hamas’ failure to reimburse it for electricity for the power cut. PA spokesman Tareq Rashmawi coupled that explanation with a demand that Hamas agree to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's unity initiatives, which include holding the first parliamentary and presidential elections in more than a decade.
"We renew the call to the Hamas movement and the de facto government there to hand over to us all responsibilities of government institutions in Gaza so that the government can provide its best services to our people in Gaza," he said.
During the security cabinet session late on Sunday, ministers decided that Israel would not make up the shortfall. "This is a decision by (Abbas) . . . Israelis paying Gaza's electricity bill is an impossible situation," Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel and the Palestinian Authority "will bear responsibility for the grave deterioration" in Gaza's health and environmental situation.
Israeli power lines are the only reliable power source feeding the Gaza Strip after the latter’s sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel. Power lines from Egypt that supply electricity to southern Gaza are often out of operation due to technical issues.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released reports this month, warning of a full crisis should the situation in Gaza continue on its current trajectory.