Fatah, Hamas Trade Blame in Gaza

Gaza's power station is down once again, and once again, Fatah and Hamas trade accusations.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 10:00 PM

Muslim women in Gaza
Muslim women in Gaza
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Gaza's power station is down once again, and once again, Fatah and Hamas trade accusations.

It seems to be a semi-monthly occurrence. It happened in April, then again in June, and now once more: Gaza's only power station, providing a third of the area's electricity to two-thirds of its residents, stopped its generators on Saturday. As in the past, the stoppage is due to a dispute between Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza, and Fatah, which runs the Judea-Samaria part of the Palestinian Authority.

Each side blames the other for not paying its share - though Hamas says Fatah has other motivations as well.

Islamist Hamas officials in Gaza say Fatah has ordered fuel from Israel for only two days. "Instead of paying for a large quantity of fuel," an unnamed Hamas man told Reuters, "[Salam] Fayyad's government has paid only for up to two days' supply, forcing facility officials to ration the distribution of power."

On the other hand, Fatah official Omar Kettana said the problem is that Gaza's local power company simply does not collect payment from Gazan consumers. "We fund 80% of the payment for Gaza's electricity generating fuel needs," he said, "but it is up to the Gaza electric company to be more effective in collecting payments. The only solution is for them to pay the 20%."

"I ask Hamas leaders the following,” a Fatah spokesman said the last time this problem came up: “There are between 70,000 to 80,000 employees whose salaries are paid for by the PA; 20,000 take their salaries from UNRWA, while Hamas pays the salaries of 50,000 employees. Are these people unemployed? Why don't they pay their electricity bills?”

Israel supplies 2/3 of Gaza's power needs, and most of the remaining third is generated locally, with Fatah paying Israel for the fuel required to run Gaza's generators. Egypt supplies a small amount of electricity as well.

Officials said the power outage – coming in the midst of a heat wave – could last days.

"This is not about money," a Hamas official said. "It is politically motivated, and Salam Fayyad bears full responsibility for an act of collective punishment on the people of Gaza."