A view shows Gaza's power plant through a barbed fence in the central Gaza Strip January 16, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel made its first reduction in electricity it supplies the Gaza Strip on Monday pursuant to a request from the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas-controlled Energy Authority in Gaza said.
Israel decreased the flow of electricity by eight megawatts, according to the Energy Authority in Gaza.
The Israel Electric Company confirmed the reduction in a statement, saying it will be decreasing its supply of electricity to Gaza gradually over the next several days.
Last week, Israel approved a PA request to lower the amount of electricity it supplies Gaza by some 42 megawatts. The PA asked Israel to reduce the electricity supply to pressure Hamas to cede control over the isolated territory.
Gaza power crisis
“This [reduction] will substantially affect the electricity distribution schedules,” the Energy Authority in Gaza said in a statement.
Israel usually transfers 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza via 10 electrical lines, which provide the strip with approximately four hours of electricity.
Since Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating in late April, the strip relies almost entirely on electricity imported from Israel.
Muhammed Thabet, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co. spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post the eight-megawatt reduction is “unjust and dangerous.”
“Today, Israel made its first move to reduce electricity to the strip,” said Thabet. “If Israel fully implements its cabinet decision, I fear that Gaza will be left with two hours of electricity daily.”
Thabet added that the timing of the reduction is particularly problematic.
“There is incredible demand for electricity during Ramadan. People stay awake all night and shops remain open. The electrical networks in Gaza are under immense pressure.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the branch of the Defense Ministry responsible for coordinating the entry of electricity into Gaza, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Twitter: “The occupation bears full responsibility for the consequences of the electricity reduction because it collects taxes along Gaza’s crossings that are enough to pay for Gaza’s electricity and other [expenses].”
The taxes Israel collects along Gaza’s crossings are largely transferred to the PA’s coffers.
Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, called on Israel to reverse its decision.
“Israel must immediately cancel reductions of electricity supply to Gaza and work instead to increase supply in a manner that allows civilians to live their lives with dignity,” Gisha said in a statement.
Without electricity, many Gazans have been resorting to flashlights and candles as sources of light in the evening.
Other Gazans have purchased costly subscriptions to communal backup generators.