Israel reduces electricity to Gazan to 2 hours a day

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Israeli regime has begun reducing electricity supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip, a week after Tel Aviv announced its much-condemned decision to further pressure the impoverished Palestinian sliver.

The Gaza Energy Authority announced the news in a statement on Monday, adding that Israeli authorities "began to reduce by eight megawatts electricity flow" into the Palestinian enclave. It also warned that the "dangerous" reduction would have "serious effects" on the crisis-hit territory.

It further said that the cutback was expected to reduce the amount of the mains electricity supplied to the blockaded sliver by at least 45 minutes of the daily average of four hours of power that Gaza's nearly 2 million inhabitants receive from an Israeli power plant, which provides them with some 125 MW a month, or 30 percent of the total mains electricity needs of the enclave.

On June 11, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet gave the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) the green light to implement the controversial cut, a step that is expected to further deteriorate the power crunch plaguing the Palestinian seaside territory, run by the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Israel’s decision was reportedly made after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, slashed its monthly payments for the power supplies to Gaza by 30 percent. The PA and Hamas are at loggerheads, and Abbas' decision is then considered as indirect pressure on Hamas to relinquish control of the enclave.

Israel said that it would not cover the shortfall in the PA payments, and the PA argued that it could no longer foot all the bills for electricity in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority says so far it has paid $12.65 million as a monthly bill to the IEC for Gaza's needed share of power.

The IEC also confirmed the cutback in a statement, adding that the measure had been adopted "in accordance with" a Tel Aviv's "directive."

"The internal deliveries of electricity to consumers inside the Gaza Strip is not the responsibility of the electric company and is done by internal Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip," it further said, adding that the shipments would be scaled back gradually.

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