Hamas: PA using Gaza fuel crisis to incite

PA denies charges that West Bank leadership had asked the Egyptians to cut off fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Fuel tanker arrives at plant in Gaza 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Fuel tanker arrives at plant in Gaza 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority is exploiting the severe fuel crisis in the Gaza Strip to incite Palestinians against Hamas, the Islamist movement charged Saturday.
The allegation is a sign of renewed tensions between the two Palestinian parties in light of their failure to implement the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation agreement that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal signed.
The fuel crisis has forced the only power plant in the Gaza Strip to cut off electricity for several hours every day.
“The Palestinian Authority wants to use the fuel crisis for extortion and bickering, exploiting the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
He said that although Hamas agreed last Friday to allow Israeli fuel into Gaza, it continues to insist on receiving supplies from Egypt.
Abu Zuhri said the costs of Israeli fuel were too high at $2 per liter for Gazans, compared with Egyptian fuel.
He added that the PA government in the West Bank did not want to assume its responsibilities and cover the costs of the fuel from Egypt although it was receiving financial aid from the EU.
Mustafa Sawwaf, a Palestinian political analyst affiliated with Hamas, claimed over the weekend that Abbas and the PA leadership were behind Egypt’s decision to stop fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.
He said that the goal was to trigger a revolt against Hamas in the Gaza Strip because of the fuel and electricity crisis.
“They told the Egyptian leaders that within days the people would erupt against Hamas and eliminate it,” Sawwaf said, referring to the PA leadership in the West Bank.
He said that Fatah elements, whom he described as a “fifth column,” were responsible for rumors in the Gaza Strip that Hamas was stealing fuel supplies.
The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health warned Saturday that the lives of more than 500 patients were at stake because of the continued fuel and electricity crisis.
“The patients, who include more than 100 children, could die any moment because of the fuel and electricity crisis,” said Yusef al- Mudalal, a senior ministry official. “Many ambulances have also stopped moving because of the crisis.”
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, dispatched a delegation to Cairo over the weekend to discuss ways of solving the crisis.
The delegation is expected to inform the Egyptians that the PA government would cover the costs of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station reported.
The PA has blamed Hamas for the crisis because of its insistence on smuggling Egyptian fuel into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels.
The PA envoy to Cairo, Barakat al-Farra, denied that the PA leadership had asked the Egyptians to cut off fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip and accused Hamas of “fabrications.”
He said the charges were aimed at damaging “historical relations” between the Egyptian and Palestinian peoples.
The Hamas “lies” show that the movement is not interested in reconciliation with the PA, al-Farra added.