Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Hamas: Cutting electricity to Gaza would be 'catastrophic'

Hamas: Cutting electricity to Gaza would be 'catastrophic'

Hamas has condemned the decision to cut the electricity supply to Gaza as "catastrophic and risky", and threatened both Israel and the PA.

"They [Hamas] receive support from Qatar and have received aid from other countries in the past, but they usually choose to put the funds towards building up infrastructure towards terrorism", Erdan said.

The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday to cut the amount of power it supplies to Gaza.

The statement came after Israel chose to cut the amount of power it supplies to Gaza, at the result of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Medical Aid for Palestinians CEO Aimee Shalan said: "The worldwide community's failure to solve Gaza's devastating fuel and electricity crisis - and the 10-year blockade and closure of which it is a part - is severely affecting the lives of ordinary Palestinians". However, PA spokesman Tareq Rashmawi coupled that explanation with a demand Hamas agree to unity initiatives of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, which include holding the first parliamentary and presidential elections in more than a decade.

The Gaza electricity distribution company says it has not yet been informed of the Israeli decision to slash electricity, but warned of "serious deterioration" if the cuts went into effect.

Gazans now receive only three or four hours of electricity a day, delivered from the territory's own power station and others in Israel and Egypt.

Following several Arab countries' decisions to cut ties with Qatar in June, partly driven by Qatar "supporting terrorist groups", Hamas may lose some of Qatar's support. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

"We are not going to continue financing the Hamas coup in Gaza", Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA's Civil Affairs Department, told the Voice of Palestine radio station in May.

The term "leniency toward Hamas" indicates that Israeli officials make no distinction between Gaza's entire civilian population on the one hand, and a political grouping Israel opposes, on the other.

Gaza's health ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf al-Qidra warned of "dangerous consequences for the sick and public health" if electricity is further reduced. The PA sent an official letter saying that it wanted to transfer NIS 255-300 million per month, which Mordechai said meant a reduction in power supplies.

Schanzer added that, according to his sources, part of the reason for the present electricity shortage in Gaza is that Hamas has been diverting the power supply to the underground tunnels it is once again constructing.

But Israel is deluding itself if it believes it can shun responsibility for what happens in Gaza. The decision was made after the Palestinian Authority (PA) limited how much it will pay for power supplied to enclave.

Over the years, Gaza's Hamas rulers have built a labyrinth of tunnels, including ones that cross under the border with Israel, and have used them to launch attacks during the 2014 Gaza war. "But we have an interest in security, and our policy is clear on the subject of security and it won't change", he said.

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