Turkey to Help Gaza Deal With Power Outages as Israel Blames Hamas

Hamas' 'tunnels have no power outages,' Israeli army says as Gaza power stations struggle to keep Strip heated.

A Palestinian boy holds candles to light his family's house during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip January 11, 2017. Picture taken January 11, 2017.
MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

Turkey is going to send large quantities of diesel fuel to Gaza in order to operate its power station and help ease the ongoing power crisis, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, said on Saturday.

Haniyeh thanked Turkey for its willingness to help Gazan residents. Haniyeh is scheduled to meet the ruler of Qatar in the coming days in order to discuss the situation.

The coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, related to the issue on Friday, blaming Hamas for the crisis. He said that Israel is supplying Gaza with electricity and diesel fuel on a regular basis.

In an interview he gave to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, Mordechai claimed that “Hamas leaders enjoy electricity 24-hours a day, whereas other Gazan residents only have power for three hours.” He said that Hamas uses funds it collects for supplying electricity for the personal benefits to its members and for military equipment. It places generators close to its tunnels for the sole use of Hamas members. “The tunnels have no power outages” he said.

The protests against electricity shortages are gathering steam in recent days due to lower than usual supply and to a rise in demand due to the cold weather. According to sources familiar with the situation in Gaza, the crisis' deterioration stems from the fact that the Gaza Power Authority is unable to purchase sufficient amounts of diesel fuel in order to operate the power station at full capacity.

People in Gaza hold the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah responsible since it won’t cancel the tax imposed on this fuel, making it significantly costlier. Sources in the Palestinian Authority claim that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, imposes a tax on every fuel truck that enters, thereby imposing hardship on Gazan residents.

According to the Gaza Power Authority the required daily consumption in the Strip is 600 megawatts, while the power station is currently producing only 60. Israel supplies 123 megawatts and Egypt provides another 20. In recent weeks supplies in Gaza haven’t reached more than 150 megawatts a day, and this is deteriorating as the days get colder.