Amid threats by Hamas of an “explosion” over reduced energy supply, Netanyahu said Israel has no interest in escalating the conflict and that the issue is “an internal Palestinian argument.”
Reacting to Israel’s decision to reduce the supply of electricity to Gaza – cutting back on one hour of power a day and leaving it with just three – the Hamas Islamic terror group, which rules the Strip, warned of a resulting “explosion.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, in a power struggle with the Hamas leadership, recently cut funds to Israel, allocated for Gaza’s electricity, by 35 percent. Israel decided not to intervene in internal Palestinian struggles and decreased the supply.
“The decision of the occupation to reduce electricity to Gaza at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is catastrophic and dangerous,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said in an official statement. “It will advance the deterioration and explosion in the Strip.”
“Those who will bear the consequences of this decision are the Israeli enemy… and Abbas,” he charged.
The decision was greeted with mixed reactions among Israeli lawmakers, with some lamenting that the locals will be the ones to suffer, not the terror leadership. Nonetheless, as Israelis and others have pointed out, the lack of infrastructure for civilians is due to Hamas’ use of funds for terror purposes, such as smuggling tunnels, rather than for the benefit of the people.
“In recent days I have heard erroneous explanations regarding the issue of electricity in Gaza. It needs to be understood that the issue of electricity in Gaza is subject to a disagreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Tuesday evening. “Hamas is demanding that the PA pay for the electricity and the PA is refusing to do so. This is an internal Palestinian argument. In any case, I would like to make it clear that Israel has no interest in escalation and any analysis to the contrary is mistaken. But we are interested in security and our policy on security is clear and unchanging.”
Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), warned already last month that Israel could be forced to cut electricity to the Gaza Strip. “The reason is that Hamas prefers to use the money for digging tunnels…and the people get only what is left over from that,” he said.
“If the electricity is going for tunnels and Fathi Hamad, a Hamas leader who has four wives, three homes, and electricity 24 hours a day, and two million Palestinians have electricity for four hours a day, does that make any sense?” he asked. “Those are Hamas’ priorities with the people.”