Hamas and Egypt traded allegations Sunday over which party was responsible for
the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The crisis began a few weeks
ago when Egypt cut off fuel supplies for electricity production in Gaza,
shutting down the only power plant and forcing daily 18- hour blackouts. The
situation has also resulted in a severe shortage of gas for cooking and heating,
forcing Palestinians to rely on wood fires as an alternative.
officials accused Egypt of “political extortion” due to the latter’s insistence
on supplying fuel to the Gaza Strip through Israel. Until recently, fuel had
been smuggled into Gaza from Egypt through underground tunnels.
deal recently reached between the two sides, the Hamas government was supposed
to purchase fuel from Egypt. Last month, however, it announced it had paid Egypt
$2 million but that the Egyptians were not fulfilling their promise to resume
According to the agreement, the Gaza Strip’s electricity grid
would be connected to Egypt and the Palestinian power station would start using
gas instead of diesel fuel.
Yusef Rizka, political adviser to Hamas Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh, accused Egypt of using the fuel crisis for “political
extortion.” He said that Egypt’s insistence of supplying fuel to the Gaza Strip
only through Israel was designed to “force Hamas to succumb,” and called the
Egyptian demand “illegal and arbitrary.”
Egypt’s General Intelligence
Service was playing a major role in creating the crisis, he charged, adding that
Cairo’s refusal to supply fuel despite having received the $2m. down payment
“raises many questions” as to the Egyptians’ true intentions.
Asqoul, secretary-general of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, openly
blamed the Egyptian intelligence service of being behind the electricity crisis.
He said the Egyptian demand to supply fuel through Israel was “completely
unacceptable” to Palestinians for political, technical and administrative
Asqoul called on the Egyptian government and parliament to put
pressure on the country’s intelligence service to allow the fuel supplies into
the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, where there is no Israeli
In response to the Hamas allegations, a spokesman for the
Egyptian government said Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were not naive and knew
that the Hamas government was responsible for the electricity crisis. He said
that although Egypt was suffering from its own shortage of fuel supplies, it
nevertheless was working to help solve the crisis in the Gaza Strip by upgrading
and rehabilitating the Palestinian power plant.
The spokesman called on
Hamas to stop exploiting the crisis and suffering of Palestinians, and to
protect them from “mafias” that were involved in smuggling fuel through
underground tunnels, a fact that, he added, had led to a rise in the price of