Israeli Minister halts Gaza electricity reduction

Gaza is caught in an endless tug of war.

June 1, 2017 22:02
1 minute read.
No power in Gaza

Palestinians walk on a road during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip received a temporary reprieve from an electricity reduction that would have left them with only two to three hours of power a day.

The 2 million Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled area have received four hours of power a day since April. Prior to that they were receiving 12.

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Last week, the Palestinian Authority sent a letter to Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), stating that it did not plan to pay the NIS 40 million monthly bill for the electricity needed for four hours of power. Instead, it said it would pay only NIS 25 to NIS 30m.

In response, Mordechai said he would provide the Palestinians with only 75 megawatts of power. However, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz this week blocked the move, insisting that COGAT maintain the energy level at 125 mW.

According to media reports, Steinitz said COGAT should not take orders from the PA, nor should it be a pawn in a game between Hamas and Fatah.

The upper echelon is now set to discuss the matter, but no date has been announced.

Fatah has been reducing the amount of electricity sent to Gaza as a pressure tactic to wrest control back from Hamas, particularly at its border crossing. Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since it ousted Fatah in a bloody coup 10 years ago. The international community holds that an end to the Hamas-Fatah conflict is an essential ingredient for making peace with Israel.

Last Friday, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called on Fatah and Hamas to end their tug of war when he addressed the UN Security Council in New York.

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