Israel to Resume Sale of Electricity to Gaza After 6-month Hiatus

Restoring Israeli power supply was among the promises made as part of the Palestinian Reconciliation process

Jan. 6, 2016 file photo: a power outage at the main street in Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip.
Adel Hana/AP

At the request of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will resume selling 120 megawatts of electricity a day to Gaza, as it had been doing until half a year ago.

The Palestinian prime minister announced Wednesday that the increase in the power supply will take place at the instruction of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and that it should begin within a few days. One of the promises made as part of the Palestinian reconciliation process was restoring the Israeli power supply to what it had been before.

A week ago the independent Palestinian news agency Sama reported that the reconciliation government had sent a letter “to the Israeli side” (i.e., to the office of the coordinator of government activity in the territories), requesting that Israel resume supplying 120 megawatts of power to the Gaza Strip.

Half a year ago, the PA, also at Abbas’ instruction, informed Israel that it would not pay for all the electricity that Israel was supplying to Gaza, after which Israel cut back its supply to 70 megawatts. It was not forced to do this, since all the PA’s debts to Israel – like the outlays for health services and water – can immediately be paid by deducting the funds from the customs and taxes Israel collects on the PA’s behalf and is meant to transfer to the Palestinian treasury. As a result of the cutback, most Gaza residents had electricity for only four hours a day.

The additional 50 megawatts, however, will not resolve the power supply crisis in Gaza. The Gisha NGO reports that based on varying estimates, Gaza’s real daily power requirements are between 400 and 500 megawatts. Before Israel’s power cutback, the supply was 208 megawatts, which included the electricity supplied by Egypt and the electricity produced by Gaza’s own power plant. Together that amount allowed for cycles of eight hours with electricity and then eight hours without.