Israel should refuse the Palestinian Authority’s request to cut off electricity supplies to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on the grounds that it is the “ultimate occupying power” in the coastal enclave, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) official told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
Speaking from Tel Aviv, Omar Shakir — the Israel and Palestine Director for HRW — called on the Israeli government and the PA to “ensure that electricity supplies to Gaza are maintained.”
Shakir was speaking after the PA informed Israel it would no longer pay for the electricity which the Jewish state provides to Gaza, a move which could plunge the territory’s two million Palestinian residents into a long-term blackout.
The Fatah-controlled PA’s move — which reverses its ten-year policy of paying for Gaza’s electricity despite having been violently ousted from the Strip by Hamas in 2007 — comes at a time of escalating PA-Hamas tensions that may yet mushroom into a major headache for Israel.
“Palestinians in Gaza are already facing electricity shortages, sometimes only three or four hours a day,” Shakir said. “Their humanitarian needs should not be used as a political football.”
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