Israel will have to reduce the power supply to Gaza, the Coordinator of Government Activity in the West Bank Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Thursday, after the Palestinian Authority notified it will stop paying for the electricity Israel provides to the Strip, which is grappling with an acute energy crisis.
In an interview to the BBC, Mordechai said Israel is Gaza’s sole energy provider, as the Strip’s power station and the power lines from Egypt are not working. Gaza’s energy problem, however, is the result of an internal Palestinian issue, not of one between Israelis and Palestinians, he said.
“Israel provides 125 megawatts. It decided to increase that by 100 megawatts, but, regrettably, there are problems between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah [in the West Bank], which led the PA to stop funding the power supply,” Mordechai said.
Electricity supplies in Gaza have been limited to just three or four hours a day, as opposed to eight hours a day before the crisis. An Israeli Arab witness told Haaretz that there is hardly any electricity in the Strip, with hospitals depending on diesel-fueled generators to use respirators, incubators and similar equipment.
Mordechai dismissed criticism of Israel’s ongoing closure on the Gaza Strip and blamed Hamas for the energy crisis.
“Hamas charges 100 million shekels from the Gaza Strip residents every month, via merchandise tariffs and taxes from the exploited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but the money doesn’t reach the PA. This is because Hamas chooses to put the money into tunnels, digging and organizationIsrael is the only one supplying the Gaza Strip with power, so the Strip is completely dependent on Israel for its power supply,” he said.
According to Mordechai, Hamas officials place their own interests above those of Gaza's residents.
“The power goes to the tunnels and to Fathi Hammad, the senior Hamas official who has four wives, three houses and electricity supply 24-hours-a-day, while two million Palestinians have four hours of electricity a day. Is that reasonable? Hamas prefers its own interests and its commanders’ interests,” he said.
Mordechai said slashing the power supply is an internal problem, noting the PA had officially told Israel that it was reducing its payments for the electric power. “The average 125 megawatts we provide the Gaza Strip costs 40 million shekels. The PA told us in an official letter that it is interested in paying 25-30 million shekels. That means reducing the electricity to the Gaza Strip.”
Mordechai did not say when the already irregular power supply the Gaza Strip would be reduced and by how much, but laid the responsibility for it on Hamas.
“If Hamas decides to use the electricity for hospitals and civilians, instead of to its leaders and tunnels and generators, the Gaza residents will have no problem.”
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