Avi Issacharoff
Haaretz (Blog)
June 29, 2010 - 12:00am

This story will probably not receive much coverage by the international media. This story is not a matter of black and white, "David versus Goliath" – there aren’t bad Israelis versus good Palestinians. What there is, however, is more proof that the Hamas government doesn’t really have the Gaza residents' best interests at heart, while the Palestinian Authority too cares more about money than Gazans' interests.

But because Israel is not involved in this affair, the United Nations has not held an emergency session to discuss the matter, the (non-Palestinian) Human Rights organizations will overlook it and Israel will continue to be held completely responsible for the siege on Gaza.

Gaza's power plant, which has been producing most of the electricity supply of the Gaza Strip, hasn't been working for the past three days. The plant stopped working on Friday afternoon, due to what seems to be a serious lack of industrial fuel on which it runs. The fuel ran out in Gaza due to a dispute between the PA in Ramallah and the Hamas government in Gaza.

The cutbacks in fuel supply began several months ago. Israel transferred large quantities of fuel meant for the power plant in Gaza which was paid for by the PA government, headed by Salam Fayyad.

But the Fayyad government expected Hamas to pay them for the fuel as the electricity serves the Gazan residents for which Hamas is responsible, but Hamas were in no rush to dish out the money. The Fayyad government slowly cut the quantities of fuel transferred to Gaza, and the Hamas government continued to refuse paying for it under the assumption that if Gaza suffered an electricity shortage, Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be held accountable.

This continued for some time, until Friday, when the Hamas government's Gaza Energy Authority shut the power plant altogether. According to UN data, Gaza today receives only 137 Megawatts of the 300 it requires. The power plant was supposed to produce another 65 Megawatts.

Due to this shortage, Gaza suffers from frequent electricity blackouts. In fact, the Gaza residents who do not have access to generators have only eight hours of electricity a day.

The electricity is supplied for six hours and then cut for 12 hours, and the cycle starts over again. Weather-wise, the electricity blackouts have come at a bad time, as last week was extremely hot. The matter also affected the water purification plants and the sewage systems working in Gaza.

And what are the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government doing? They each place the blame on the other for causing the crisis. Gaza Energy Authority head Kanan Obeid said that the Ramallah government has failed to pay Israel for the industrial fuel, which is the cause for the crisis that led the power plant to halt its operations.

On the other hand, Palestinian Authority's Energy Committee chair Dr. Omar Katana said that the electric company responsible for the operation of the Gaza power plant was supposed to transfer funds for the industrial fuel, but it abstained from doing so this past month. He urged the representatives in Gaza to collect taxes from Gaza residents for the fuel they receive.

It seems as though Hamas refuses to impose taxes on Gaza's inhabitants due to the residents' growing bitterness toward the organization, after it already imposed a series of monthly taxes on the residents of Gaza.

For this reason, Hamas prefers to refrain form collecting taxes for electricity so they will not be held accountable for worsening the economic state of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas had hoped that the Palestinian Authority will finance the fuel to secure the flow of electricity.

Of course the primary victims in this story are the Gazans. It turns out that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority each prefer to argue over a few million dollars a month, instead of working toward the betterment of Gazans' living conditions.


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