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Gazans without electricity over the weekend

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Political bickering between Hamas and its rival Palestinian Authority led to shortages, officials say
  • Gaza's main power plant supplies 30 percent of electricty to residents
  • PA, Hamas point fingers at each other
RELATED TOPICS
  • Gaza
  • Israel

Gaza City, Gaza -- Political bickering between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority resulted in a massive electricity shutdown over the weekend, leaving thousands of Palestinians without power in 90 degree temperatures, officials said.

Gaza's main power plant -- which supplies 30 percent of electricity to Gaza Strip residents -- shut down operations over a fuel payment dispute between the Hamas government in Gaza and Palestinian officials in Ramallah.

Director of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, John Ging, told reporters Sunday in Gaza that the electrical outage is an additional "tragedy" to the ongoing crises caused by Israel's blockade.

"It's an unbearable situation here at the moment, and it needs to be solved very quickly," Ging said.

"It's a Palestinian problem, made by Palestinians, and causing Palestinian suffering. So let's have a Palestinian solution," he said.

Palestinian officials claim that electricity to Gaza Strip residents has also been compromised by Israel's bombing of four main generators in 2006.

Electricity is currently being distributed in a rotational fashion using the Egyptian electric grid to supply electricity to residents of the southern cities of the Gaza Strip, and in the Israeli grid to supply electricity to the residents of the northern part of Gaza.

Israel supplies most of the electricity to Gaza. Egypt also supplies about 10 percent of electricity to Gaza.

Kan'an Obaid, deputy general-director of the Gaza electric power plant blamed the PA government of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah for not transferring the diesel needed to run the electric company.

"Even though we have transferred two million dollars to the Palestinian finance ministry in Ramallah to transfer fuel for the electric company, still we did not receive the fuel transfer required to operate the electric power plant," Obaid told CNN.

"The electric company is facing a very serious problem in supplying electricity to its residents and the number of cut of hours are increasing to 12 hours a day. The fortunate residents are resorting to diesel operated generators, which adds to the smoke pollution," he said.

Palestinian government spokesperson Ghassan Khatib shot back, telling CNN that the Palestinian Authority covers up to 95 percent of the monthly cost of the Gaza electric bill.

"The officials in Gaza are using their claim of paying ... money to the Palestinian Authority to create a humanitarian crisis in blackmailing and embarrassing the Palestinian Authority, which has been covering up to 90 to 95 percent of the total bill of the Gaza energy every month, " Khatib said.

The electric company's woes are because officials in Gaza are not collecting enough money from consumers, he said.

CNN's Talal Abu Rahmeh and Kareem Khadder contributed to this report.

 
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