Palestinian power struggle disrupts electricity in Gaza
GAZA CITY — A 10-year blockade and three wars have hardened the people of the Gaza Strip, but now they face a new challenge: The territory’s lone power station is short of fuel.
The problem means hours without electricity for the 2 million Palestinians living in the coastal enclave. And the situation is about to get worse as summer approaches.
The solution could be simple: Provide Gazans with fuel for their power plant. But a power struggle between the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the militant rulers of the Gaza Strip, stands in the way.
Until now, the Palestinian Authority received fuel from Israel and sold it to the power station in Gaza, which is under Hamas’ authority. But financial difficulties meant other countries occasionally had to step in to cover the cost. In January, after public unrest over power cuts, Qatar and Turkey donated three months’ worth of fuel to Gaza.
But that arrangement has ended, and the Palestinian Authority has said that as long as Hamas remains in charge in Gaza, it should be responsible for paying the electricity bill — at the full cost.
The political fighting between the Palestinian factions has left Gazans to survive with four to six hours of electricity a day.
“I live on the sixth floor, and electricity is important for me not only inside my apartment but also outside, to operate the elevator,” said Maisa al-Masri, a 38-year-old resident of the strip. She is a mother of five and has severe back problems.
Hamas has asked the Palestinian Authority to at least reduce the taxes it charges for the fuel. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week refused to cut the tax unless Hamas relinquishes power to the Palestinian Authority.
A Palestinian woman helps her son study by candlelight at their makeshift home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.