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Israel Cuts Power Supplies to Gaza in Palestinian Authority Move to Oust Hamas

© Sputnik / Pavel Lisitsin / Go to the photo bankElectricity
Electricity - Sputnik International
Israel has started cutting its electricity supply to the Gaza Strip, in accordance with a request from West Bank authorities. If cuts come into full effect, the Gaza Strip will have electricity for just a couple of hours a day.

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Israel has started cutting down on the electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip, fulfilling a request filed by the Palestinian Authority, according to a statement by The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA).

According to the statement, Israel has already decreased the amount of supplied electricity by eight megawatt-hours. This is the first decrease from the 125 megawatt-hours it supplied for over two months, which was enough electricity for Gaza to run for four to six hours a day, according to Times of Israel.

Once Israel has completed the reduction in full, Gaza will have power for only two to three hours a day, according to Mohammad Thabbet, Gaza electricity distribution company spokesperson.

Palestinian Authority officials seek to force Hamas to cede control of Gaza, which it has held since 2007. The power cuts are part of a larger plan which includes the reduction of government salaries to Gaza workers and cuts to medical aid supplies.

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman argue that Israel is not a part of the dispute.

"This is an [internal] Palestinian crisis; those who need to pay for electricity are the leaders of Hamas, of the Palestinian Authority — we are not a party in this," Liberman said.

Earlier this April, the PA officially notified Israel that it will pay only $7 million of $11 million it previously paid for electricity in Gaza.

The United Nations and more than a dozen Israeli and international non-governmental organizations asked Israel not to cut electricity to Gaza, warning the move would lead to a "total collapse" of basic services in the region like water supply, waste treatment and medical aid, including life support systems to infants.

"A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors," said Robert Piper, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories. "The people in Gaza should not be held hostage to this longstanding internal Palestinian dispute."

According to the Times of Israel, the official position of the White House is that Hamas is the one to blame for the energy crisis.

"No one should lose sight of the fact, of this fact, that Hamas bears the greatest responsibility for the current situation in Gaza," said Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman.

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