Gaza Power Chief: Shutting Off Power Will Lead to Tragedy

Palestinians walk on a dark street next to a grocery shop lit with battery-powered lamps, during a power cut in Gaza City. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra, File)

Gazans are not to blame for Hamas’ terror activities, the head of the Gaza Strip’s power system said Tuesday – and Israel should not be punishing them for Hamas terror offenses, said Muhammad Tabat.

“The cut in electricity flows could set off major riots,” he told Army Radio Tuesday. “This is a security and environmental issue. Ashekelon and Ashdod are in danger from this power cut as well,” he said.

Reports Monday said that Israel had, as promised, begun cutting power flows to Gaza. That cut has been minimal – no more than 6.6 percent, with the Israel Electric Corp. holding 8 megawatts out of the usual 120 sent to Gaza. Even so, said Tabat, the cut is being felt already, and could lead to tragedy. “There are sick people and old people here, and they are not to blame for what Hamas does.”

Electricity is needed not only for those populations; without full power, an ecological disaster could emerge. “Our water pumps for sewage processing barely work as it is, and much sewage ends up in the sea. That sewage could end up in Ashkelon or Ashdod, so this crisis is likely to affect you directly as well,” Tabat said.

Already, he said, electricity was turned off for most of the day; most households and businesses got only two or three hours of power a day. “There is nothing else to cut, and if more cuts are made, I am concerned about how people will express their anger. They may lose control of themselves. These cuts are a crisis – geopolitical, environmental, security, geo-strategic – call it what you will.”

Gaza sources Tuesday said that Egypt had agreed to supply Gaza with diesel fuel to operate local electric generators. The sources said that Egypt had agreed to provide enough fuel to allow the generators to operate 24 hours a day.

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