Hamas Blacks Out Free Speech in Power Crisis

Criticizing Hamas for its inept administration in Gaza could see you charged as a rabble rousing 'security threat.'

G. Queenann & R. Hirshfeld,

Gaza Power Crisis Rally Near Rafiah
Gaza Power Crisis Rally Near Rafiah

The director of a Gaza-based human rights organization said Sunday that he received an arrest warrant from the Hamas-run security services, after criticizing the coastal enclave's energy authority.

Al-Dameer director Khalil Abu Shamala told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that the arrest warrant included accusations from the Hamas-run energy authority that he had blamed them for the current energy crisis in Gaza.

It also charged Shamala had "created a rift amongst citizens," as well as "threatening the security of the authority."

Al Dameer’s website states that it is "concerned with presenting legal services to detainees inside Israeli jails, along with its activities in defending the victims of violations, whoever perpetrates them” adding “it "works on raising the societal awareness in the field of democracy and human rights through working with different sectors of the local society."

The so-called “human rights” organization actually “engages in anti-Israel demonization while referring to terrorists as ‘martyrs’ and speaks of the Palestinian ‘right to resist,’” the NGO Monitor claims.

Gaza's power station went dark on February 14 – with the coastal enclave blacked out up to 18 hours a day – when sources of black market supplies of fuel smuggled from Egypt dried up.

On Sunday, Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu told reporters a three-stage deal had been reached after “intensive negotiations” between Hamas Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh, Egyptian officials and the Islamic Development Bank.

Al-Nunu said the first stage will allow Egyptian companies to pump fuel directly to Gaza. The second stage will increase the capacity of Gaza's sole power-plant by 40 megawatts. The third will see the Gazan electricity grid connected directly to Egypt's.

During the fuel crisis, Gaza’s Hamas rulers refused to transfer fuel from Egypt through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing, claiming Israel "severely restricts the movement of people and goods from Gaza."

Hamas called on Arab and Islamic countries to intervene to prevent a crisis and sought to blame Israel for the shortage, citing an "Israeli ban on construction materials."

The terror group says it has been impossible to rebuild power stations destroyed in Operation Cast Lead early in 2009.

Fuel for Gaza's power plant is one of the commodities Israel has allowed to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing. However, officials in Gaza refused to purchase fuel from Israel at market rates, calling the prices "excessive."

Additionally, Israel began allowing construction materials for pre-approved projects like schools, hospitals, and critical infrastructure to enter Gaza in early 2011.

This has led many observers – including residents of Gaza like Shamala – to place the blame on the impending 'crisis' on Hamas.