Palestinians walk on a road during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Qatar pledged Sunday to send $12 million to the Palestinian Authority to pay for fuel for the Gaza power plant in an effort to mitigate the ongoing electricity crisis in the Strip.
“The Qatari emir ordered immediate action to implement practical steps to resolve the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip,” a statement published on Hamas’s official website said, summarizing a meeting between the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani and Hamas Politburo Deputy Chairman Ismail Haniyeh in Doha.
Gazans have suffered from an electricity shortage in recent weeks, with most households receiving three to four hours of electricity a day rather than the average of seven to eight hours they had received in recent years.
A shortage of fuel for the Gaza power plant and technical difficulties with the electrical lines coming from Egypt are the main causes of the dramatic decrease, according to PA Labor Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla.
According to the Palestinian Info Center, a Hamas-affiliated news site, Muhammed Imadi, a Qatari envoy tasked with overseeing the Gulf state’s rebuilding efforts in Gaza, said his government will provide the PA with three installments of $4m. over the next three months.
The first payment will be sent to the PA’s coffers immediately, Imadi said.
The electricity shortage has increasingly frustrated Gazans, some of whom are turning to wood and coal to heat their homes in the cold winter evenings.
Others are using candles to light their homes, a practice that has led to fires and fatalities.
Over the weekend, thousands of Gazans took to the streets in protest
, calling on authorities to resolve the crisis.
Hamas shot bullets into the air at many of the protests, dispersing demonstrators.
On Saturday, Turkey said it would send 15 million liters of fuel to Gaza for the power plant, according to Hamas’s official website.
Moreover, Abu Shahla, speaking on behalf of the PA, said on Saturday that his government will exempt all fuel for the Gaza power plant of taxes at its weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The PA previously had exempted fuel imported to the Gaza power plant from taxes, but decided amid a financial crisis in 2015 that it could no longer fully exempt the fuel from tariffs.