First Published: 2017-06-19

Israel begins reducing power supplies to Gaza
Jewish state begins to reduce electricity supplies to coastal enclave by eight megawatts after PA said they would no longer be paying costs.
Middle East Online

Until today, Israel has supplied Gaza with about one quarter of its electricity needs

GAZA CITY - Israel on Monday began reducing electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip, despite warnings the move could increase suffering and tensions in the Palestinian enclave.

The cut will reduce the mains power flow to Gaza to as little as two hours a day, though many businesses and the wealthy have their own generators.

The decision came after the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is based in the occupied West Bank, told Israel it would no longer foot the bill for electricity supplies to Gaza.

It raises concerns of rising tensions and a collapse of vital services in an impoverished and overcrowded territory that has been devastated by three wars with Israel since 2008.

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007, when it seized the strip in a near civil war from the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, in a dispute over general elections won by the Islamist movement.

Multiple attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah have failed, but the PA had continued to pay Israel for some electricity delivered to Gaza until this month.

Israel "began to reduce electricity flow by eight megawatts" into the enclave, Gaza's energy authority said.

The state-run Israel Electricity Corporation confirmed it had diminished power supplies "in accordance with a government directive".

Until Monday, Israel supplied 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza a month, which made up about one quarter of the enclave's needs, with the PA paying the 11.3 million euros ($12.65 million) monthly bill.

Since the sole power station in Gaza ran out of fuel and stopped working in April, the 120 megawatts represent 80 percent of available power in the strip.

The Israel Electric Corporation said power supply would "effectively be reduced on two lines out of 10 every day, until the reduction applies to all 10 lines".

- Total collapse -

The Gaza Strip is home to some two million people, more than three-quarters of whom the United Nations says depend on humanitarian aid.

The power reductions come despite stark warnings of the humanitarian implications for Gazan civilians, who already suffer from critical shortages of power -- with most homes receiving only a few hours even before the cut.

Israeli human rights group Gisha said in a statement on Monday that by reducing supplies "Israel is knowingly aggravating an already dangerous situation in which the strip is teetering on the verge of a humanitarian crisis."

The vast majority of residents are Muslim and are currently observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Robert Piper, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, warned last week that the Palestinians were being "held hostage to this longstanding internal Palestinian dispute."

"A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors."

Hamas last fought Israel in 2014 and analysts have warned the power reduction could prompt the Islamist group to spark another round of conflict.

In a statement Wednesday, Hamas said Israel and Abbas were jointly responsible for the "catastrophic consequences" of the reduction.

The statement did not mention war, but called the measures "dangerous".

Hamas is considered to be a terrorist group by Israel, the European Union and the United States.

 

UAE warns Qatar to take neighbours' demands 'seriously'

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi crown prince

Algeria leader drops Panama Papers libel suit vs Le Monde

Morocco detains three as Rif protests continue

Israel starts work on new settlements amid Trump 'peace' push

At least 10 dead in Mogadishu suicide attack

Iraq forces advance in Mosul Old City

Yemen cholera death toll passes 1,100

Iran-made drone shot down by US plane in Syria

Raqa’s own battle to liberate hometown from IS rule

Saudi, Iraq hail 'qualitative leap' in relations

French journalist killed in Mosul

Iran protests against Tillerson 'transition' comments