Palestinian govt tells Israel it won’t pay Gaza electricity bill

A Palestinian woman hangs a torch inside her house during power cuts at Shatti (beach) refugee camp in Gaza City September 15, 2015. Power has been provided to different areas in the impoverished coastal territory in six-hour shifts as Gaza's lone power plant shut its generators on Saturday due to a fuel shortage, energy officials said. Electricity is also supplied to the Gaza grid through power lines from Israel and Egypt. Gaza's plant provides electricity to two-thirds of its population. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RTS18OO

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday informed Israel that it will no longer pay for electricity for the Gaza Strip starting immediately.

Electricity consumption in Gaza costs about 10.1 million dollars monthly, which Israel deducts from the Palestinian government’s taxes, said Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the (Palestinian) Territories (COGAT).

Palestinian officials refused to confirm the COGAT statement.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, who run the West Bank, have reportedly been pressuring the Islamic Hamas movement in charge of Gaza to cede control over the coastal enclave.

Abbas had warned Hamas that “unprecedented measures” would soon be taken.

Gaza is undergoing an energy crisis, leaving residents with electricity for only six hours a day after a fuel shortage caused the region’s only power station to stop operating earlier this month.

Deputy Chairman of Hamas in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayyah, warned in a statement that Gaza is a powder keg that could explode “in the face of Abbas and the Israeli occupation” at any second.

The World Bank also warned that the energy shortage was creating a humanitarian crisis for Gaza’s two million residents, affecting vital services such as hospitals and clinics.

“The Israeli military targeted a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday after shots were fired at Israeli soldiers carrying out routine activities along the border fence,’’ an army spokesman said.

No injuries were reported on either side.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 after weeks of internal fighting with Abbas’ security forces.

Right after Hamas took control of the enclave; it routed Abbas forces and cracked down on his Fatah party.

(dpa/NAN)


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