Israel

Israel Reduces Power to Gaza in Compliance With Palestinian Authority Request

Israel on Monday reduced the amount of electricity it is providing to the Gaza Strip, in compliance with a request from the Palestinian Authority, The Times of Israel reported.

The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) announced that Israel would reduce the amount of power it provides to the Gaza Strip, which is governed by the terrorist group Hamas, by eight megawatt-hours. Israel has been providing 125 megawatt hours of electricity to Gaza every month, and has been the main provider of power to the territory for the past two months.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri warned that Israel would “bear responsibility for the consequences of the reduction,” even though it was requested by the Palestinian Authority, because it “levies taxes on crossings [into Gaza] that are enough [to pay] for Gaza’s electricity and more.”

Longtime Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote last week that Hamas raises an estimated $28 million monthly in taxes and could use some of those funds to resolve Gaza’s energy crisis.

“Those who took control of Gaza in a military coup and since then invested more than $1 billion in their military infrastructure, could have easily directed their resources to resolve Gaza’s problems,” Issacharoff wrote. “But what is the value of another few hours of electricity for the people of Gaza, compared to another few tunnels or rockets?”

PENRA, in its statement, characterized the Israeli reduction as an “initial step” to “gradually” comply with the PA’s request to significantly cut Israel’s power supply to Gaza.

In April, the PA informed Israel that it would reduce the amount it pays monthly for Gaza’s power from NIS 40 million ($11 million) to NIS 25 million ($7 million). Israel had been supplying 125 megawatt-hours to Gaza then, approximately 30 percent of what’s required to power the territory for a full day.

Cutting power to Gaza was characterized by the Times as one of a number of steps taken by the PA to force “Hamas to cede control of the Strip, or begin footing the bill itself.” The PA has also cut pay to its Gaza-based employees and reduced the medical supplies it sends to Gaza.

The PA’s efforts to squeeze Hamas come as the terror group celebrates the ten-year anniversary of its bloody 2007 takeover of Gaza, when it killed and expelled forces loyal to the Fatah party, which rules the PA.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the PA’s request to reduce the power Israel supplies to Gaza last week as an “internal Palestinian argument.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman similarly said that Israel was strictly a “supplier of electricity and was prepared to supply electricity” if the Palestinians paid for it. “This is an [internal] Palestinian crisis,” he explained. “Those who need to pay for electricity are the leaders of Hamas, of the Palestinian Authority — we are not a party in this.”

[Photo: Reuters / YouTube ]