Hamas and Egypt are on a collision course as Egypt cuts power to Gaza over unpaid bills.
Egypt cut power to the Palestinian cities of Khan Younis and Rafiah in the southern Gaza Strip this week after residents accumulated a large electric bill and refused to pay it.
Dozens of people demonstrated in front of the Khan Younis district headquarters of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo) in the Gaza Strip late Monday in protest of the blackout, Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports.
Protesters attempted but failed to reconnect power lines.
A pregnant woman identified as Azza Youssef Najjar was injured and taken to hospital during the protest, according to Ma’an, though it is unclear to what extent she was hurt.
Worse than the Israeli Blockade
Demonstrators told Arab media that the suffering inflicted by Egypt was worse than the “Israeli blockade.”
“Even when we had the war with the Zionists, they did not cut off our power supply and water like [Egyptian President] Al-Sisi the criminal,” one Palestinian said. “Al-Sisi’s government is worse than the Zionist occupation,” another one added.
GEDCo, which oversees distribution across the Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled areas, redirects power supplied by a station inside Gaza as well as by the Egyptian electricity grid and the Israeli electric company. The Palestinians claim that the power supply is not sufficient, saying that it has been plagued by supply problems due to the Israeli blockade on Gaza as well as destruction caused by Operation Protective Edge during the summer, when Hamas terrorists fired at their own power lines.
According to the Ma’an report, Gaza suffers 12 hours of power outages each day. Many homes have their own generators, and households may purchase fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption.
However, the Palestinian Authority canceled a deal to purchase natural gas from Israel earlier this month, thwarting an opportunity to end its energy dependence. The gas was designated for use by a new Palestinian electrical plant in Jenin.
Simmering Tensions Between Cairo and Gaza
Egypt and Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, have been at each other’s throats ever since Al-Sisi took power.
Egypt accused Hamas of involvement in the smuggling of weapons through underground tunnels into the Sinai Peninsula and of actively attacking Egyptian military targets.
The Egyptian army launched a broad campaign to destroy the Hamas smuggling tunnels and to create a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza, demolishing hundreds of Palestinian homes in the process.
Earlier in March, an Egyptian court added Hamas to its list of designated terror organizations, a decision that could harm Hamas financially and hinder its diplomatic efforts.
In response, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad both threatened Egypt, stating that they will “react to any aggression in the same way it reacts to Israel,” namely, plaguing it with terror attacks.
By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
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