A Palestinian man sells falafel in a makeshift shop lit with a lamp powered by a battery during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip January 11, 2017. Picture taken January 11, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Israel on Sunday started work to restore its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip to normal levels, Gaza Electric Distribution Company spokesman Muhammad Thabet said.
In June, Israel stopped transferring approximately 50 MW of electricity to Gaza after the Palestinian Authority said it would no longer pay for the power as a part of its effort to pressure Hamas to give up control of the Strip. Hamas has controlled Gaza since it ousted the PA from the territory in 2007.
“The Israeli teams started working on delivering an extra 50 megawatts to us. I hope we will be receiving the electricity in the next three to four hours,” Thabet said during a phone interview on Sunday evening.
Last Wednesday, the PA announced it was ready to resume paying for the electricity it had asked Israel to stop sending to Gaza, even though Hamas had not relinquished control of the territory.
Thabet added that the additional 50 MW will slightly mitigate the power shortage in Gaza.
“We are talking about an additional two hours of electricity, meaning that we will go from four hours electricity daily to six hours,” he said.
Gaza suffers from severely inadequate electricity infrastructure that can only provide a total of approximately 225 MW of power. According to Gisha, an Israeli human-rights group, Gaza’s demand for electricity is estimated to be between 400 MW and 500 MW.
Many Gazans resort to backup generators to keep their houselights and refrigerators on during blackouts.
A resident of Gaza City who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said while he is relieved the PA resumed its normal payments to Israel for electricity, it should have made the move months ago.
“Electricity should have never been used as a political tool. It is a right of the people to have continuous access to electricity,” he said. “The decision to restore the 50 megawatts should have been made a long time ago.”