Yerushalayim (TPS) – Israel has reduced the supply of electricity to Gaza in line with a Palestinian Authority request, according to reports coming out of the Strip on Monday.
“The Israeli occupation authorities this morning reduced the 8 megawatts of electricity capacity on the Israeli lines feeding Gaza in an initial step to implement the recently announced decision to reduce electricity in Gaza gradually, which were made at the request of the Palestinian government in Ramallah,” read a statement from the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority.
“This threatens to have a serious effect on the reality of electricity in the Gaza Strip, which is already suffering from a severe shortage and a major energy deficit,” the statement continued.
Israel has until now supplied Gaza with approximately 120 megawatts of electricity per day, amounting to less than one-third of the 400-500 megawatts that would be required to power the Strip round the clock during the summer season. According to various reports, electricity is available for only 4-8 hours a day in total. A spokesman for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation said that Gaza will now only have electricity for 2-3 hours a day.
Last week, Israel’s security cabinet decided to slash the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip by some 35 percent, following a decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to pay the Hamas-held territory’s monthly bills.
The PA informed Israel in late April that that Ramallah would cut its monthly payments to Israel of NIS 40 million ($11 million) for electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip. The money is deducted from taxes Israel collects on behalf of the Abbas government on the import of goods destined for the Strip.
Humanitarian groups had appealed to Israel not to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza, saying that any further cutbacks in power available to the Strip could result in a humanitarian crisis.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet that the lack of power in Gaza had nothing to do with Israel and was an internal dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.