Palestinian Affairs

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Palestinian Infighting Over Power Crisis Forces Hamas Allies to Step In

Millions of dollars worth of fuel from Qatar arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday, easing severe power shortages in the Hamas-run territory.

Gaza’s Energy Authority said that the Qatari injection of approximately $12 million worth of fuel would power a third generator at Gaza’s power plant, which would provide residents with electricity for eight hours each day for a three-month period, Reuters reported. In recent weeks, Gazans have typically been restricted to just three or four hours of electricity each day.

Turkey is also expected to provide extra fuel to Gaza in the coming days, according to the Associated Press.

The power cuts have led to rare public demonstrations of dissent towards Hamas’s rule. Last week, Hamas security forces disrupted a protest which involved around 10,000 people in Jabaliya.

According to Deutsche Welle, security forces fired live ammunition into the air and hit protestors with batons. Journalists from the AP and AFP reported being manhandled and arrested by Hamas police whilst covering the protest.

Reuters reported that the power shortage is partly the result of a dispute over tax bills on fuel imports between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, violently overthrowing the Fatah faction of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and relations between the two have been bitter ever since.

Gaza’s energy authorities also face unpaid consumer bills of around $1 billion, Reuters added. According to UN estimates, almost 70 percent of Gazan household do not pay electricity bills, either due to poverty or a failure by local authorities to collect the funds, the Times of Israel reported.

The Swiss daily Basler Zeitung reported on Monday that the Swiss government and a Finnish NGO spent almost $85,000 on a workshop in Geneva last month, designed to bring Fatah and Hamas together in unity talks. The report says that Palestinians on social media termed the Swiss initiative a “waste of money.”

In a separate incident, a 17-year-old Palestinian named as Qusay Hasna al-Umour was killed during clashes with Israeli security forces near Bethlehem in the West Bank on Monday.

An IDF statement said: “Hundreds of rioters hurled rocks at the security forces in the area…due to the extent of the violence, border police fired 0.22 calibre rounds towards a main violent instigator, resulting in his death.”

Four other Palestinians were also reportedly injured in the clashes.

[Photo: Gladys Martínez López / Flickr]