Power cuts spark Gaza protests

Power cuts spark Gaza protests
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting power shortages which continue to disrupt life and business in the besieged coastal territory.
2 min read
09 January, 2017
Gaza's power supply is often cut off for hours at a time [Getty]
Dozens of Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza on Monday over ongoing electricity shortages, the latest in a series of demonstrations against the Hamas authorities in the beleaguered territory.

Power cuts in the besieged Palestinian enclave have occurred repeatedly in recent weeks, with homes in Gaza City typically getting around four hours a day - rather than at least eight, normally.

Residents in other cities and refugee camps are getting less than that in the enclave.

A series of protests against the Hamas-run electricity company have been met by police forces, with a number of arrests, according to an NGO.

Khaled al-Batsh, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, speaking to a few dozen protesters Monday, called for all parties to make "great efforts" to overcome the "worsening electricity crisis".

He warned of a "tragedy" without a change in course.

The UN says the shortages are the result of a range of factors including weak infrastructure, lack of bill payments, closure of illegal tunnels on the Egyptian border through which fuel was smuggled and the bombing of the Gaza power plant by Israel.

However, they have been exacerbated recently by a dispute between members of Hamas - which runs Gaza - and Fatah, which controls the occupied West Bank, over the payment of taxes on fuel imported to Gaza.

Both sides have blamed the other for the shortage.

The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations Network called on all factions to work together but denounced the arrest of "a number of citizens" at protests by Hamas authorities.

The roughly two million people in Gaza rely on one power plant, as well as imports from Israel and Egypt.