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Palestinian Authority stops funding Gaza electricity

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The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced that it will stop paying Israel for the electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip.

Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub told Israeli correspondent Gal Berger that it was illogical for the PA to continue to finance the current situation, saying that “Hamas needs to change its tune”.

The PA’s decision to stop payment for electricity supplied to Gaza by Israel is symptomatic of the power struggle that is being fought out between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which violently took over Gaza from the PA in 2007.

Aides to Abbas told reporters that the PA is expected to present Hamas with an ultimatum in the next few days to either surrender control of the Gaza Strip to the PA’s government, or it will stop the transfer of all funds to Gaza.

In 2016, the PA’s overall budget was US$4.1bn, of which the Gaza Strip’s share was US$1.65bn, representing about 40 per cent going to the terrorist group Hamas.

Hamas continues to demand that the PA or Qatar, which until recently supplied the fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant along with Turkey, pay for electricity despite the fact that Hamas collects taxes from the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Israel supplies approximately 30 per cent of the electricity needed in the Gaza Strip at a cost of roughly NIS 40m every month, which Israel deducts from the PA’s tax funds.

According to Israeli intelligence, Hamas invests tens of millions of dollars per year in their military build-up.

A Senior IDF official told journalists that Hamas for the first time must decide “whether to their use money for [terrorist attack] tunnels or electricity. They have always received electricity until now, but now they will have to decide what they prefer”.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, fuel to power back-up generators at seven out of 13 hospitals in Gaza is expected to run out within three days. In response, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities has approved the allocation of US$500,000 emergency funding for fuel for hospitals and other emergency medical facilities in the Gaza Strip to maintain the delivery of essential services.