The civilians of the Gaza Strip are the ones bearing the brunt of the power struggles between Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.
Earlier this month, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas’ request to reduce Gaza’s electricity supply by 40 percent. The move came after Palestinian Authority, which is based in the occupied West Bank, told Israel it would no longer foot the bill for electricity in Gaza.
Hamas has been running the region since 2007 when it laid siege to and claimed the strip in a near civil war from Fatah party’s Abbas in a dispute over general elections. Multiple attempts at reconciliations between the two parties failed but the PA continued to pay for electricity delivered by Israel until this month.
Israel began reducing its electricity supply to the strip from this week, deepening an already dire energy crisis. Last week, it was announced that Israeli authorities would cut back 45 to 60 of the daily average of four hours that Gaza’s 2 million residents receive.
Residents of the strip are now getting close to only two hours of electricity each day and it has sparked concern about a war between Hamas and Israel.
Up until now, Netanyahu had supplied Gaza with 125 megawatts of electricity — about 30 percent of the region’s electricity needs. Egypt also provides electricity feed of 27 megawatts a day but they hardly ever operate.
The situation was further exacerbated when Gaza’s sole power plant, which generated 60 megawatts of electricity, closed down in April after it ran out of fuel provided by Qatar and Turkey. The rest of Gaza’s fuel reserve are expected to end “by the end of June or early July at the latest,” according to United Nations Development and Humanitarian Coordinator Robert Piper.
If that happens, many of the hospitals in the strip will be forced to shut down. Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, fears it will lose the lives of dozens of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit if the generators shut down. Cancer patients will also not be able to have their chemotherapy.
It also means there is no electricity to operate water pumps and to fill the tanks, so there is a shortage of water in the strip.
Abbas’ rash decision came days after President Donald Trump met with him in the White House. The Palestinian president may have wanted to show Trump he can take a strong stance against Hamas and even negotiate peace with Netanyahu, especially in light of Trump’s senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner traveling to Israel.
Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations, are expected to meet Netanyahu and Abbas in Ramallah in an effort to revive “peace talks” between Israel and Palestine.
Meanwhile, the fate of the citizens of Gaza remains uncertain.