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Gaza on edge of humanitarian crisis after PA halts electricity payments

Due to the almost near total shutdown of the sole electricity plant in Gaza, Gaza currently has electricity only four hours a day, Quds Press reported yesterday.

Prior to the halt of the power plant, Gaza had electricity between eight and 12 hours a day. Power is not available all day due to Israeli restrictions that started in 2007 with the siege imposed on the coastal enclave.

However, Gaza might plunge into complete darkness within the coming days because the Palestinian Authority (PA) told the Israeli authorities that it would stop paying for the electricity provided to Gaza through the Israeli grid.

Israel slashes up to 40 million shekels ($11 million) from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA from the commodities heading to Gaza. According to Quds Press, Israeli customs authority collects around $120 million on behalf of the PA every month.

Mohamed Thabet, the director of public relations of the Gaza electricity company, told Quds Press: "In a situation where Israel cuts its power supply, Gaza would have zero electricity for its residents."

Replying to the PA's threats, Hamas, which has been running the Gaza Strip since it won the general elections in Gaza and the West Bank in 2006, warned Israel of responding to the PA demands.

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanou told Quds Press:

Hamas warns the Israeli occupation for responding to [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas' request to stop supplying Gaza with electricity because this would have reflexive consequences on it.

Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Israeli government would not cut electricity supplies for Gaza "immediately" because it is "worried" about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

Gaza needs 600 megawatts of electricity every day but currently gets 120 megawatts from Israel, 23 megawatts from Egypt and between 45 and 70 megawatts from the power plant.

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