Israel Concerned Gaza Energy Riots Could Push Hamas to Attack

YERUSHALAYIM -
Mass protest in Gaza. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

Riots continued in Gaza over the weekend, as Israeli officials warned that the ongoing energy crisis there could spill over to Israel — in the form of rocket attacks by Hamas to divert the attention of residents there to the organization’s inability to supply residents with power. Hamas officials said Saturday that Turkey had promised to send diesel gas to run electrical generators, but the promise did little to quash the riots.

The riots began several days ago, as a cold wave hit Gaza. Electricity in the Strip operates in some neighborhoods for only several hours a day. The lack of heat and light has driven tens of thousands, mostly from poor neighborhoods and refugee camps, into the streets to protest the lack of power. Hamas has responded with force, using anti-riot measures and even live ammunition to break up the crowds, which have been increasing in intensity daily. Nearly 300 people have been arrested.

The Israel Electric Company had been supplying diesel fuel and electricity to Gaza, but after the Hamas government ran up hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and refused to pay, the IEC limited its supplies. Several payment plans were adopted by Hamas, but the debt remains intact.

Israeli defense officials have been keeping a close eye on the situation, and some officials are concerned that Hamas will give a green light to massive rocket attacks on Israel in the hope of generating an IDF response — which would allow the terror group to redirect the anger of Gazans from Hamas back to Israel. With that, Hamas top terrorist Ismail Haniyeh said that Turkey had promised to provide Gaza with 15,000 tons of diesel fuel, enough to keep generators in Gaza running full time for several months.