Palestinians walk on a road during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Hamas-controlled Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip temporarily cut all sources of power on Friday night to protest “oppressive measures being taken against” the Strip, as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are blaming each other for an impending electricity crisis.
Power was cut between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. in the coastal enclave, the Energy Authority in Gaza said.
Gaza, which suffers from inadequate energy infrastructure, underwent a major electricity crisis in January, with schedules of electricity falling from eight to four hours daily.
Thousands took to the streets to protest the lack of electricity until Qatar and Turkey intervened, sending millions of dollars and liters of fuel to the Gaza Strip to operate the area’s sole power plant.
Qatar donated $12 million of fuel to offset Gaza power shortage (credit: REUTERS)
The plant is responsible for supplying Gaza with more than 25% of its daily electricity output.
Last Thursday, the Energy Authority in Gaza said the Qatari and Turkish fuel aid had ended, raising the possibility of a renewed electricity crisis, and specified that it could only be avoided if the PA lifts its taxes on fuel.
“As the taxes on fuel have not been exempted by the [PA ] government, the power plant will stop operating on Sunday morning,” it said in a statement.
The Energy Authority in Gaza strongly opposes hefty taxes imposed by the PA on imported fuel, which it says impedes its ability to run the power plant.
According to Energy Authority deputy chairman Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, taxes raise the price of fuel by an additional 160%.
PA government spokesman Yousif Mahmoud said on Saturday that Hamas would be responsible for any power outage in Gaza, as it controls the strip’s power plant, but did not address the fuel tax issue.
The PA considers fuel taxes an important source of revenue that help to fund its annual budget.
A resident of Gaza City, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post
on the condition of anonymity, said that he and his family are nervous about the possibility of a renewed electricity crisis.
“We don’t know if we should go to the market to purchase food because there’s no guarantee we will be able operate our fridge,” he said, adding that his family does not have access to a backup generator.
Many Gazans have backup generators to power their homes during power outages.
The resident added that he has heard “enough excuses from Israel, Hamas and the PA.”
“Our governors need to take responsibility and find a way out of these continued crises,” he said. “We deserve to live like normal human beings.”