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EU Withholding Payment for Fuel Supplies to Gaza

EU claims Hamas wants to bypass the Western boycott by levying an energy tax. Israeli sources say that the supplied fuel is going into PA rockets.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 8/21/2007, 10:36 AM

The European Union is not going to pay for fuel supplied to Gaza until the ruling Hamas organization affirms that it will not levy a new energy tax to fund its activities.

The Fatah-led PA government in Ramallah is responsible for ordering cooking fuel, power plant fuel and gas for the entire PA. After the PA pays, the supplies are then delivered. In the case of the Gaza power plant fuel, the European Union is the body responsible for making the payments directly to the Israeli supplier Dor-Alon Energy.

When the EU informed Dor-Alon that it was suspending payment as of this week, Dor-Alon ceased fuel deliveries for the Gaza power stations.

The fuel sent to Gaza by Israeli supplier Dor-Alon Energy is not currently taxed; however, EU spokeswoman Antonia Mochan said that Hamas has proposed a new levy in an apparent effort to bypass the European boycott of the Islamist regime in Gaza. The EU is acting to prevent money from going directly into the hands of Hamas.

A spokesperson for Dor-Alon declined to offer an opinion as to the reason for the EU's decision, saying that, for Dor-Alon, "it was a technical matter of payment irregularities."

European Union officials informed Gaza's Hamas leadership on Monday that it will continue payments for fuel supplies to power stations in Gaza only on condition that Hamas does not levy new energy taxes on the Palestinian Authority populace.

Gaza's electricity generating stations already faced a crisis that began last week, when security threats forced the suspension of fuel deliveries.

Hamas accused the Fatah faction, led by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, of collaborating with the EU to keep the fuel out of Gaza in revenge for the rival terrorist faction's military takeover two months ago. However, PA Minister Riad Maliki told reporters that the EU stopped paying for the fuel because Hamas took over the electric company and started pocketing revenues "for private purposes."

A senior member of Hamas, Ahmed Yusuf, compared the EU decision to what he called "the Israeli policy of collective punishment." Hamas also denied the EU claims regarding the new tax, saying that they would give the Europeans any assurances they demand.

IDF sources said that Israel and Egypt continued to supply more than half of the electric power to the Gaza area and that "there was no disaster." On Tuesday, Egyptian officials confirmed that Egypt would still supply power to Gaza. "Egypt is committed to continue supporting the Palestinian people under any conditions," declared an official spokesman of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. 

EU, Israel May Have Been Fueling Terrorism
PA officials had no satisfactory explanation for the disappearance of the fuel.

IDF intelligence sources expressed additional concerns about the Israeli fuel supplies delivered to Gaza, saying they may have been used by terrorists to fuel Kassam rockets.

Last week, both Israeli and international organizations went to check Gaza fuel stores, which had recently been refilled, only to find them empty. PA officials had no satisfactory explanation for the disappearance of the fuel.

The Karni Crossing, where oil and gas deliveries from Israel cross into Gaza, was closed last week in response to numerous attempts by PA terrorists to tunnel under the border to carry out attacks on Israeli population centers. As a result, the PA Electric Company was forced to cut off power in several areas due to a fuel shortage. The PA power station supplies Gaza with some 25-35% of its energy needs.