(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Tightened tensions between Fatah and Hamas could lead to another conflict in the Gaza Strip, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned on Friday.
“In Gaza, we are walking into another crisis with our eyes wide open,” Mladenov told the UN Security Council during its monthly meeting in New York on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I am today warning the Security Council that unless urgent measures are taken to de-escalate, the crisis risks spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Mladenov said.
“Since Hamas established an administrative committee in March, a parallel institution to run governmental affairs in Gaza, the intra-Palestinian political tug-of-war has led to a significant deterioration in relations between Fatah and Hamas,” Mladenov continued.
“The result is a significant worsening of the humanitarian crisis which risks exploding into another conflict.”
Chief among his concerns is the “unprecedented energy crisis,” which as of last Thursday has left the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip with only two to three hours of electricity a day, down from four.
Israel reduced the electricity it supplies to Gaza from 125 MGW to 75MGW, after the Palestinian Authority said it would not pay its full NIS 40 million monthly bill and instead would only give the Israel Electric Company NIS 25-30 million.
Israel is now the Gaza Strip’s sole supplier of reliable electricity.
The Gaza power plant that provided up to 120 MGW of electricity had to shut down when it could not pay the hefty tax the PA imposed on the diesel fuel needed to run the plant.
Egypt supplies up to 30 MGW of electricity to Gaza, but its power lines are often down.
For Gaza to receive 24 hours a day of power, it would need 450 to 500 MGW.
Mladenov outlined for the council the humanitarian and environmental crisis that has been created by the lack of electricity.
“Since mid-April, desalination plants are functioning at 15% of their capacity and drinking water is supplied for a few hours every two to four days,” Mladenov said. “As we speak, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the Mediterranean Sea, on a daily basis.”
“This is the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools of sewage. Untreated. Daily,” he added.
Food prices have soared because the price of water for irrigation has risen, Mladneov continued. “The manufacturing sector is grinding to a halt and over half of private industry workers have been suspended,” he said.
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