The State of Israel began Monday to implement a 30 percent reduction in the supply of electricity it sends to Gaza.
The move comes in the wake of a refusal by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to pay for more than 70 percent of the prior amount.
Abbas, whose Ramallah government is tasked with footing the bill, says although Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization collects electricity payments from the residents in the enclave, the group refuses to transfer the monies to his government.
Last month the Palestinian Authority leader put his foot down and said his government would no longer pay the entire bill, insisting that Hamas must take responsibility for governing its people. “If they want electricity they must pay for it,” Arab media quoted him as saying.
The cutback is expected to reduce the daily supply of electricity to Gaza homes by 45 minutes, assuming Hamas does not divert the power for military use.
The Palestinian Energy Authority told Reuters the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) cut eight megawatts of the 120 megawatts it usually supplies to Gaza.
Hospitals in Gaza run mostly on generators, which are considered more reliable. So do many private homes in the region – as do many Bedouin homes that are scattered around the Negev desert and are not hooked up to the national grid.
Last week, the Israeli security cabinet decided to go ahead with the decision to reduce the power feed, after reaching the conclusion that Israel should not have to cover Gaza’s power bills.
One day later, Egyptian negotiators reached a deal with Hamas representatives to provide electricity supplies in exchange for 17 wanted terrorist fugitives.
At that point, Gaza’s main power plant had been offline for the past two months due to the dispute.