The Israeli Government this week decided to heed a Palestinian Authority (PA) request to reduce electricity supply to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after the PA announced it would not continue to pay the bill.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly asked Israel to cut the electricity supply to put pressure on his political rivals in Hamas, who have ruled Gaza for the last ten years.
An Israeli official told the daily Haaretz newspaper on Sunday that the security cabinet had accepted the recommendation of the Israeli military to cut the supply at the request of the PA.
The PA has been paying 40 million shekels ($11.3 million) a month for 125 megawatts, but in April said it was now only prepared to pay for 20-25 million shekels ($7 million) a month for electricity to Gaza.
The Hamas terror organisation warned of a fresh “explosion” of violence in Gaza, following the decision.
The decision has sparked concerns about the humanitarian impact on Gazans, who currently receive four hours of electricity every day. The initial cut is expected to reduce that time by around 45 minutes.
The US State Department said on Tuesday it was “concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza”, but ultimately said that Hamas “bears the greatest responsibility for the current situation in Gaza”.
Gaza has not had full-time electricity in more than a decade, largely because of the international isolation of Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel.
Israel and Egypt, which border the Gaza, both imposed a blockade on the territory after Hamas’s takeover in 2007, to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry. Since 2008, Israel and Hamas have fought three cross-border wars.