Abbas stops funding Gaza electricity to pressure Hamas

Abbas stops funding Gaza electricity to pressure Hamas

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory — The West Bank-based government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will stop paying for electricity in the power-starved Gaza Strip and “dry up” the flow of funds to the territory’s Hamas rulers, a senior official said Wednesday.

Hamas accused the Abbas government of irresponsible behaviour and warned that the announced cuts would be disastrous for Gaza’s 2 million residents.

Abbas and Hamas have led rival governments since the Islamic militant group seized Gaza in 2007, driving out forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian president.

After several failed reconciliation attempts, Abbas recently said he would pressure Hamas financially to force it to cede ground. The Palestinian leader was to meet Wednesday at the White House with President Donald Trump to discuss ways of restarting long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Steps against Hamas could bolster Abbas’ claims that he speaks for all Palestinians.

In the West Bank, a senior official said the Abbas government would stop paying for the electricity Israel sends to Gaza, worth at least $11 million a month.

Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Civil Affairs Department, said Hamas profits because it collects electricity payments from Gaza residents. “We are not going to continue financing the Hamas coup in Gaza,” he told the Voice of Palestine radio station.

Al-Sheikh said the aim was to “dry up Hamas’ financial resources.” He said efforts would be made not to harm services to Gaza residents, but did not explain how that would be possible.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Abbas of siding with Israel in trying to punish Hamas.

“Today, Abbas put himself in a confrontation with the Palestinian people,” Barhoum said. “Its consequences will be catastrophic and disastrous, not only for Hamas, as they think, but for all Gazans.”

Gaza residents have been enduring worsening power cuts — a result of border blockades by Israel and Egypt that were triggered by the Hamas takeover. Residents currently live with rolling blackouts — six hours on, 12 hours off — that have further crippled an economy devastated by conflict.

Israel supplies electricity from 10 power lines that cover about 30 per cent of Gaza’s needs. Israel deducts the money from the taxes and customs it collects on behalf of the Abbas government. Egypt provides some electricity, but supplies are less reliable.

Israel last week announced the Abbas government’s intention to stop paying for Gaza electricity. Al-Sheikh’s comments marked the first official Palestinian confirmation.

Ahmed Majdalani, an Abbas aide, said that as a next step, the West Bank government would sharply reduce the amount of medicine it ships to Gaza every month. Majdalani alleged that Hamas is “selling the medicine and collecting the money.”

He said that only “necessary medicine” would be sent directly to Gaza hospitals.


Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip contributed to this report.

Mohammed Daraghmeh, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Missed a week of news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, we post popular stories from the week

Long-time Hedley fan weighs in on concert

Davis Wiggs attended Hedley’s final show last night

Kelowna couple hoping for a miracle

Endang Suslash is hoping to stay in Canada so she continue receiving treatment for kidney failure

Highway potholes under ministry jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country doesn’t touch the highway when it comes to filling potholes

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in Kelowna before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Prospera Place

Bottle drive held for Kelowna fire victim’s family

Springfield Elementary held a bottle drive today to support the Van Gool family

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Snowfall warning for Highway 3

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read