Thursday, June 20
Latest News
  1. Palestinian goverment: 26 million in development of ministries
  2. Rudeineh: Washington us unable to achieve anything by itself
  3. US: “No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of the West Bank"
  4. Cluster of incendiary balloons land in southern Israel
  5. Palestinian FM condemns Germany's vote to define BDS as 'anti-Semitic'
  6. Israeli forces forcibly evict Muslim worshipers from Al-Aqsa
  7. Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah
  8. Erekat: Deviation from peace terms of reference doomed to fail
  9. Iceland's Hatari shocks Eurovision with Palestinian flags
  10. UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp

Gaza in darkness: PA, Hamas trade barbs over fuel shortage

April 10, 2010 10:57 A.M. (Updated: April 11, 2010 9:13 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an report – As Gaza experiences a wide-scale blackout on Saturday, various factions have accused one another for bearing responsibility for the ongoing fuel shortage that has left the coastal enclave functioning below the population's needs.

The Palestinian Information Center, affiliated to Hamas, published headlines accusing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the extensive blackout. "The Israeli war minister has instructed Fayyad to tighten the noose around the Gaza Strip," one PIC headline read.

Speaking to PIC, Gaza government spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said Fatah was responsible for the power outage, adding that the movement in Ramallah was "stealing sums of money donated by the EU to fuel shipments, giving them as increments to its employees."

Ghassan Al-Khatib, spokesman for the Fayyad government, said the PA pays approximately 90% of Gaza's electricity bills, adding that Hamas pays nearly 1 million US dollars for collecting the invoices, in response to a Ma'an query.

According to Al-Khatib, the PA transferred 185,000 liters of fuel into the coastal enclave during March and this month's shipment will amount to 210,000 liters.

The spokesman said Hamas did not want to contribute to paying for fuel shipments. "I ask Hamas leaders the following: 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," Al-Khatib asked.

One Ramallah-based official told Ma'an that certain Hamas leaders have left home electricity bills unpaid, worth more than 30,000 shekels.

Palestinian Authority sources told Ma'an that Hamas' claims were invalid and that it pays their share of the fuel shipment, along with what is deducted from Egypt to serve Rafah with electricity.

The sources further said the PA pays 25 million shekels per month for industrial fuel needed to power Gaza's sole power station and that Hamas is only "fabricating a crisis for electoral and political purposes."

When Ma'an requested that the PA hand over statistics and numbers relating to fuel transfers into the Gaza Strip, sources said Fayyad's policy is to reduce depreciation and to arrange the financial situation, as there is a 500 million US dollar "leak."

They added that the Ramallah-based prime minister had begun a campaign two-years prior to resolve the finances surrounding fuel shipments, saying the crisis in Gaza is related to the EU terminating its monthly 10 million euro cash injection.

Gaza's monthly electricity bill is 130 million shekels, of which the PA pays 90 million, sources said, adding that the remainder was previously paid by the EU.

The sole power generator in the Gaza Strip was completely closed down on Saturday, the head of the electric company announced , following a day of unheeded warnings that a humanitarian crisis was at hand.

Walid Sa'd Sayel, who also heads the Gaza power plant's board of directors, appealed to Arab, international, and Palestinian officials to urgently find a solution to the crisis, which has left two-thirds of the coastal enclave without electricity.

In a statement, Sayel termed the energy crisis "catastrophic," insisting that relevant authorities "rescue the Gazans, who are human beings first and foremost, and they rely on power as much as they need water and air. Without action, we face a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented scale."

Shortages have plagued the power plant since December 2009, when European Union officials handed over responsibility for fuel transfers to the Palestinian Authority, apparently at the PA's request so EU aid could be channeled into civil servant salaries. Ever since the handover, as well as the corresponding closure of the main fuel transfer terminal at Nahal Oz, fuel imports have fallen to 50 percent of recent capacity.

United Nations records show current imports represent just 46 percent of the estimated demand.

In its most recent report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs listed imports for the last week of March as below half of the weekly fuel needed to fully operate the power plant. Imports have been below need since the Israeli-led siege of Gaza began in 2007, according to the UN report.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015