Palestine’s Abbas asks Israel to reduce power to Gaza in bid to pressure Hamas

Israel will reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip after funding cuts by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, a minister said Monday, worsening an already severe shortage in the city that is under Israeli blockade. Gaza’s 2 million residents already get by with only four hours of electricity a day. In an effort to push his Hamas rivals out of power, Abbas says his West Bank government will stop paying Israel to provide electricity. Hamas officials warned of grave consequences Monday if Israel acquiesces to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ wishes and reduces its electricity supply to the isolated territory.
The security cabinet decided Sunday to reduce the daily amount supplied to Gaza by around 45 minutes, Israeli media reported. Residents who can afford it use generators to power their homes or businesses in the impoverished Palestinian enclave of some two million people. Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, also a cabinet member, told army radio the reduction was due to an ongoing row between Abbas and his rivals Hamas. Abbas has reportedly decided to slash electricity payments for Gaza in a further bid to pressure Hamas.
But the reduction has also sparked fears of another upsurge in violence, with Israel and Hamas having fought three wars since 2008. An Israeli official confirmed that Israel is preparing to reduce the amount of power it supplies to Gaza, at the request of the Palestinian Authority. The official estimated that the reduction would limit power in Gaza to three hours a day.

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