Pay dispute closes Gaza power plant

Gaza officials say Palestinian Authority in West Bank has not paid Israel for fuel.

    The Gaza Strip's lone power plant rations electricity because of routine fuel shortages [AFP]

    But the PA government has placed the blame on rival Hamas, saying that Gazans are allowed to avoid electricity bills that would help pay for the fuel.

    Ghassan Khatib, a spokesperson for the PA, told the Associated Press news agency that Hamas, which is meant to collect the power bills and send them to the West Bank, has only been sending an average of $1.3 million a month, far less than the $9 million the PA pays for fuel.

    "We need some transparency here. There has to be some kind of audit," Khatib said.

    Limited supplies

    Fuel imports into Gaza have declined since November, when responsibility for buying Gaza's fuel transferred from an aid programme run by the European Commission - the executive body of the European Union - to the PA.

    Gaza received a limited supply of fuel on Thursday and may receive another shipment Sunday, but for now electricity will be provided in a rotation with six hours on being followed by 12 hours off, Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza.

    GAZA in depth
     

    Video: Gaza's deadly power shortage

    Most businesses have their own generators to deal with power shortages, but they take around a minute to turn on, which can be crucial for a patient at a hospital relying on one, Johnston said.

    The shut down also comes at a time when it could be particularly politically damaging to Hamas and the PA, with temperatures in Gaza routinely soaring into the mid-30s over the summer months.

    Israel supplies around 70 per cent of Gaza's power, and Egypt supplies around five per cent, with remainder coming from the plant.

    Hamas and the PA have been fiercely divided since Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, pushing out security forces loyal to Mahmod Abbas, the Palestinian president.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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