The Associated Press, Gaza City, Gaza Strip Thursday, 22 June 2017

The sole power plant in electricity-starved Gaza Strip sputtered back to life on Thursday after receiving fuel from Egypt — a shipment that resulted from a surprising alliance between bitter ex-rivals, including the territory’s ruling Hamas and an exiled former Gaza strongman.

Egypt’s shipment of 1 million liters of fuel undercut a high-stakes campaign by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who is trying to weaken Hamas by gradually reducing the flow of electricity to the territory he lost to the militants in 2007.

Gaza’s power plant had shut down in April, after Hamas could no longer afford to buy heavily taxed fuel from Abbas’ West Bank autonomy government.

This left the territory with electricity sent from Israel, but paid for by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. The electricity from Israel covered about one-third of Gaza’s needs, meaning Gazans were getting power for only about four hours a day.

In recent days, Israel cut the electricity flow by 40 percent, at Abbas’ request.

ALSO READ: Israel begins reducing Gaza power supply after Abbas cuts payment

The output of the power plant, which resumed operations Thursday, makes up for the Abbas-initiated cuts, said Mohammed Thabit, a spokesman of the Gaza electricity company.

Hamas officials said more fuel shipments are expected this week, adding that 1 million liters can keep the plant running for three-and-a-half days.
Pressure campaign

Abbas has not commented publicly on the Egyptian shipment, but aides have said he is upset with the Arab nation for undercutting his pressure campaign.

On Wednesday, the Abbas government tried to prevent the power plant from accepting the Egyptian fuel shipment, threatening punitive measures if it opened its gates to the Egyptian fuel trucks, said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official.

Hamas obtained a local court order forcing the power plant to accept the shipment, Hamad said.

A Palestinian official said the Palestinian Authority had threatened to withhold its monthly support payment to the privately owned power plant if it accepted the Egyptian fuel. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss confidential negotiations with the media.

The fuel shipments, which ostensibly shore up Hamas rule, seem to run counter to Egypt’s policy of trying to isolate and weaken Hamas, which it has accused of stirring unrest in the restive Sinai Peninsula next to Gaza.

However, other factors appear to play a role, including Egyptian support for Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian official with presidential ambitions. The former Gaza strongman had bitterly fought Hamas a decade ago, became Abbas’ top aide after losing that battle and then fell out with the Palestinian leader in 2010.

Earlier this month, Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar, met at least once with Dahlan in Egypt, as part of a series of talks between Dahlan’s camp and a Hamas delegation.

Dahlan helped persuade Egypt to send the badly needed fuel to Gaza, in exchange for Hamas allowing him to broaden his political presence in Gaza, according to officials involved in the negotiations.
Israel begins reducing Gaza power supply after Abbas cuts payment – Al Arabiya

Reuters, Gaza Monday, 19 June 2017

Israel began reducing its electricity feed to the Gaza Strip on Monday, deepening an energy crisis, after the Palestinian Authority limited how much it pays for power to the enclave run by the rival Hamas group.

The cutback, announced last week by the Israeli government, is expected to shorten by at least 45 minutes the daily average of four hours of power that Gaza’s 2 million residents receive from an electricity grid dependent on Israeli supplies, Palestinian officials said.

The Palestinian Energy Authority said the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) had cut by eight megawatts the 120 megawatts it supplies to the Gaza Strip over power lines.

An IEC spokeswoman confirmed a cutback had begun, in line with the West Bank-based Palestinian government’s decision to cover only 70 percent of the monthly cost of Israeli electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet gave the state-owned IEC the green light to implement the reduction, saying that Israel would not cover the shortfall in PA payments.

The Palestinian Authority said it had acted because Hamas had failed to reimburse it for the electricity. But the PA’s move was widely seen as a bid to pressure Hamas to relinquish its hold on the enclave the Islamist group seized in 2007.

Any worsening of the power crisis – Gaza’s main electrical plant has been off-line for two months in a Hamas-PA dispute over taxation of fuel supplies – could cause the collapse of health services, local health officials said.

Hospitals largely rely on generators for power, as do Gaza residents who can afford the high cost of fuel to run them.