Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, on Thursday warned that Israel could cut off Gaza's electricity supply due to the longstanding feud between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the Ramallah-based Fatah.
Speaking with BBC in Arabic and quoted by Globes, Mordechai explained, "Israel will have to cut the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, Hamas collects NIS 100 million a month from the residents of the Gaza Strip in goods and from taxes paid by all the oppressed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; it does not reach the Palestinian Authority (PA). The reason is that Hamas prefers to use the money for digging tunnels, and its organization, and the people get only what is left over from that."
Asked by the interviewer about power transmission from Israel to the Gaza Strip, Mordechai said, "Israel today is the only one supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip. The power station there does not work, and the power lines from the south are also not transmitting electricity. 125 megawatts come from Israel. The Israeli government has decided to increase this by another 100 megawatts, but unfortunately, there are problems between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the PA in Ramallah, which caused the PA to decide not to pay for the electricity."
"This blockade is… if the electricity is going for tunnels and Fathi Hamad, a Hamas leader who has four wives, three homes, and electricity 24 hours a day, and two million Palestinians have electricity four hours a day. Does that make any sense? Those are Hamas's priorities with the people," he added.
"Hamas prefers its own interests - the interests of its commanders. Every leader has a generator with a fuse, and the people get only what is left over. We are not the obstacle; it is disputes between Hamas and the PA," stressed Mordechai.
Gaza receives its power from the Israeli energy company Dor, but has not paid the company for several months. After a previous energy crisis a few months ago, Gaza received a supply of fuel from Turkey and Qatar, but both supplies have since been spent.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) government, headed by Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has admitted it has no control over the goings on in Gaza, which was overtaken by Hamas in a bloody coup in 2007.
The PA government says it allocates nearly half of its budget to Gaza and pays 80 million shekels per month towards electricity supply, but most of that is enjoyed by Hamas leaders.