Qatar Cuts Gaza Fuel Supply by Half, Palestinian Sources Say

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A Palestinian man sells falafel as he uses a battery-powered lamp during a power cut in northern Gaza, August 6, 2018.
A Palestinian man sells falafel as he uses a battery-powered lamp during a power cut in northern Gaza, August 6, 2018.Credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Qatar has cut the amount of fuel it funds for the Gaza Strip by half, sources in the Palestinian Energy Authority told Haaretz Sunday. As a result, Gazans will now get only five to six hours of electricity per day, down from the eight they were getting until now.

Qatar provides a monthly payment to cover fuel imported via Israel to run Gaza’s power plant. The latest shipment was supposed to arrive on Sunday.

>> Read more: Not just Qatari cash: Why violence has subsided along Gaza-Israel border | Analysis ■ Netanyahu can no longer pacify Gaza with Qatari cash and empty promises | Opinion

Doha has not provided any reasons for suddenly reducing the fuel subsidy. No explanations have been forthcoming from Hamas, or any of the other parties in Gaza.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said COGAT is “looking into the matter with the relevant parties and the government of Qatar.”

Sources in Gaza speculate that the cut was either a way for Israel to pressure Hamas via Qatar, or a way for Qatar to pressure Hamas directly due to disagreements over the implementation of projects in Gaza that Doha is funding together with private businessmen.

A fuel tanker arrives at the Gaza power plant, June 18, 2019. Credit: \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Political sources in the coastal enclave said Hamas is demanding that it be made a partner in these projects, or at least receive fees from them.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to slash the amount of fuel entering Gaza by half after rockets fired from Gaza hit Israeli territory. But on Sunday, Israeli sources said the defense and prime minister had reversed his decision a few days previously.

Meanwhile, a senior official in Hamas’ political wing said that Egypt is continuing its efforts to prevent an escalation between Hamas and Israel prior to Israel’s September 17 election. To contribute to this effort, Hamas worked to prevent crowds from rushing the border fence during last Friday’s 'March of Return' weekly demonstration along the Israeli border.

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