Israel’s prime minister reassured the public on Tuesday that Israel is not looking for a military confrontation over Gaza, despite the ongoing dispute over the supply of energy to the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to clarify Israel’s position two days after the Security Cabinet took the decision to limit the supply of electricity to Gaza, at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Netanyahu said that “the issue of electricity in Gaza is subject to a disagreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Hamas is demanding that the PA pay for the electricity and the PA is refusing to do so. This is an internal Palestinian argument.”
He also took the opportunity to “make it clear that Israel has no interest in escalation and any analysis to the contrary is mistaken.”
The Security Council’s decision has yet to be implemented and the decision to do so may now be delayed. Israel now intends to supplying electricity only where they have received a payment pledge. The PA pays Israel around $7 million each month for electricity sent to Gaza and blames Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, for the severe power shortages there. Gaza residents currently have electricity between three and four hours a day.
The international community remains concerned about the situation and is looking for a solution to the dispute. This could mean Hamas forwarding the PA the money it charges Gaza residents for electricity, with the PA agreeing to pay Israel in return. Alternatively, diesel could be either purchased or donated by a foreign country for the Gaza power plant. The plant stopped operating in April after Hamas ran out of fuel and refused to purchase more from the PA, who had raised the tariff they were charging Hamas.
Arab media reports have claimed Egypt has offered to supply the electricity, but would ask Hamas to extradite 17 people wanted in Egypt for terrorism and arms smuggling in return. Egypt currently provides a small amount of power to Gaza.
Hamas first seized control of Gaza from Fatah in a violent coup in 2007. Since then Hamas have fought three wars with Israel, the most recent of which was in 2014.