Power cuts in Gaza as EU halts aid

Rival Palestinian factions blame each other for blackouts across the territory.

    Many businesses in Gaza City are now operating off personal electricity generators [AFP]

    In video

    Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh examines how Gazans are coping without electricity

    "They've closed the borders, they've cut jobs. Today they've cut the electricity, tomorrow they'll cut the air for us."

    The power shortages began late on Friday, when the power station closed three of its four generators because diesel supplies had dwindled after Israel shut the Nahal Oz border crossing preventing deliveries.

    Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, but Dor Alon, the private Israeli energy company that deliveries the fuel, was told by the EU that it could not guarantee they would receive payment if they supplied the plant.

    EU funding

    "We are just going to assess the situation and we hope to resume the supplies as soon as we can," Antonia Mochan, a European Commission spokeswoman, said on Sunday. 

    "They've closed the borders, they've cut jobs. Today they've cut the electricity, tomorrow they'll cut the air for us"

    Umm Jaber, a    40-year-old mother of six in Gaza City

    The EU provides the funding under a temporary system set up to prevent directly financing the Hamas movement which took full control of the Gaza Strip after clashes with security forces loyal to the Palestinian president two months ago.

    Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and members of the government set-up by Mahmoud Abbas, the president, after he dismissed the Hama-led unity cabinet, have blamed each other for the problem. 

    "We warned for weeks that Gaza would fall into darkness if Hamas does not stop occupying the electricity company and does not stop holding on to millions of shekels that they collected from the people of Gaza," Riyad al-Malki, information minister in the Ramallah-based government, said.

    In Gaza, Hamas's parliamentary bloc said that Abbas's government headed by prime minister Salam Fayyad, which it refuses to recognise, was to blame.

    'Criminal cut'

    "President Abbas and the Fayyad government are responsible for this criminal cut in electricity," it said in a statement.
    "This decision is inhumane and could badly affect the Palestinian nation."

    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said that Gazans were fed up with the "blame game".

    "The ordinary resident in Gaza is blaming everyone for this crisis, they don't care who has caused this power outage, they just want it fixed," she said.

    "This really is a problem that effects every detail of daily life, and it is already hard enough living in the Gaza Strip, imagine living with no electricity." 

    The power station produces between 25 and 30 per cent of the electricity in Gaza, according to the EU. Israel and Egypt provide the rest of the territory's needs.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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