The Security Cabinet voted Sunday to cut electric power to Gaza, after the Palestinian Authority declared last week that it would no longer pay Gaza’s electricity bill. The IDF recommended going along with the plan in order to strengthen the position of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in his dispute with Hamas.
PA officials declared last week that they were tired of sharing the blame for Hamas’ terror activities, as the humanitarian aid transferred to Gaza – including money to pay for basic services – is used to build terror tunnels and pay terrorists. Channel Two quoted PA officials as saying the ongoing terror activities of Hamas is damaging their standing with the new administration in Washington and they would no longer pay for those activities.
Under current arrangements, Israel supplies power to Gaza, with the PA billing Gaza residents and transferring the payment to the Israel Electric Corporation. However, the payments account only for a portion of the total bill; the rest is paid by the PA out of money it receives from international donors specifically for the humanitarian needs of Gaza.
In an interview with the BBC’s Arabic service last month, IDF General Yoav Mordechai, head of COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) said that Israel was likely to cut electricity to Gaza on its own. “Unfortunately, Hamas takes in NIS 100 million from residents of Gaza in taxes, electricity and other utility bills, duty on imports and various other ‘fees.’ That money does not go to the PA, because Hamas prefers to use it to build terror tunnels and to pay the salaries of terrorists.”
U.N. officials working in Gaza said that the large majority of Gaza residents and businesses get about four hours of electricity three times a day, under current power flows. A cut in power will make the situation even worse, Channel Two quoted U.N. officials as saying.