Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani met Sunday with senior Hamas figure Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, and reportedly gave orders to Qatari officials to immediately intervene in the ongoing electricity crisis in the blockaded Palestinian territory, which has seen its already direly limited access to power further diminished in the past month.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also said on Sunday that a Qatari official contacted him saying that the funds would go to cover the costs of fuel needed to operate the Gaza Strip only power plant for more than eight hours a day.
Both Palestinian leaders thanked Qatar for its support of the Palestinian people.
Hamdallah also mentioned that Turkey had confirmed in a letter that it would provide 15 tons of fuel to the Gaza Strip, with an official agreement to be signed in coming days.
Hamas and Fatah, the ruling party of the PA, have accused one another of bearing the blame for the situation in Gaza. Protests have erupted in the besieged Gaza Strip in the wake of an announcement by Gaza’s power authority that most districts of the besieged territory would only receive three-hour intervals of electricity, punctuated by 12-hour power blackouts.
Protesters have called on all relevant authorities to find a permanent solution to the protracted issue, which has seriously affected Palestinians suffering under the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade.
While the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip last week raised hopes for some relief from the power shortages, the frequent power cuts create dangerous environments for Palestinians attempting to keep warm in the winter or needing light during the night, with a number of fires breaking out since the beginning of the year.
Gaza’s usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs. The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel’s crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave.
The enclave’s severe electricity shortages over the years have exacerbated the already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory. War has also taken its toll, and during Israel’s 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.
The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel’s blockade.
Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas’ election victory in 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two movements as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory.
Despite numerous attempts at reconciling the groups, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation and holding of long-overdue elections, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.