Palestinian Affairs

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Hamas Blames Palestinian Rivals Fatah for Gaza Strip Fuel Shortage, Blackouts

The Associated Press reported over the weekend that widespread power outages throughout the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip were the result of “political infighting” between rival Palestinian groups, which had in turn led to a fuel shortage, which had in turn negatively impacted the territory’s only power plant. A Hamas spokesman echoed claims Hamas had already made weeks ago at the beginning of the crisis:

Ihab Ghussein, spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas government, said Sunday that the rival government in the West Bank has stopped transferring fuel to Gaza because the Gaza government won’t pay a newly imposed tax. Hamas says it cannot afford the tax.

In recent months, Egypt has closed smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border that provided fuel to the Palestinian territory. Egypt also has halted transfers of Qatari-funded fuel because of militant attacks on Egyptian security forces in the lawless Sinai Peninsula. Higher-priced Israeli fuel transfers are continuing.

Analysts at the time had rolled their eyes at the accusations, calling them “insane” and noting that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority “pays for [the fuel] with donor funds, Hamas bills Gazans for it, and then pockets the cash.” Instead Hamas is being accused of repeating a tactic that the group used in 2008 and deliberately attempting to manufacture a humanitarian crisis by blacking out the Gaza Strip. There have been intermitent media attempts to frame whatever fuel shortage might exist as the fault of Israeli policies, though those have proven difficult to sustain inasmuch Israel continues to supply electricity to the Gaza Strip.

[Photo: VideoMedia / YouTube]