Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

Despite Hamas’ repeated assault on the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the only lifeline that supplies basic goods to civilians in Gaza, Israel has been battling intensively to keep it open.
The episode underlines a much wider phenomenon in which Hamas seeks to create a crisis in order to bring in outside funding for Gaza’s needs, so it can ensure the stability of its regime and keep supporting its military wing.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority seeks to choke off Gaza’s economy to punish Hamas for refusing to disarm its military wing and force it to pay a price for splitting off from the PA.
However, those paying the price for this are the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Three times this month, Kerem Shalom was attacked by mobs acting under Hamas instructions. Rioters destroyed fuel pipes that carry critical energy supplies and looted the Palestinian side of the crossing terminal.
According to Israeli intelligence assessments, these actions are part of a wider effort by Hamas to ramp up the pressure on Israel and the international community in order to obtain fresh funds for the collapsing Palestinian economy. The deadly border incidents orchestrated by Hamas this month are part of the same effort. Hamas wants someone else to foot the bill for the civilian economy so it can rescue its regime from collapse.
Gaza’s power plant, for example, runs on gas, and can supply 150 megawatts of electricity per month. Yet on April 12, Hamas shut the power plant down completely, cutting off energy supplies to two million Gazans. Throughout this time, gas was flowing freely into Gaza from Israel. Despite the daily power cuts to Gaza’s civilians, Hamas’ tunnels continued to receive power. It is safe to assume that Hamas’ rocket factories also continued to work.
Israel is, in fact, the only country that has been fighting to keep Gaza supplied with electricity. Egyptian power lines can deliver 30 megawatts, but have been shut down by Egyptian authorities for the past four months.
As part of its conflict with Hamas, the PA reduced payments for electricity. Israel quietly pressured it to reverse this decision, and the PA did so.
Similarly, at Kerem Shalom, Israel is working around the clock to keep the crossing open and functional, despite Hamas’ own attacks on it.
Thanks to these efforts, diesel fuel and gas tankers have recently resumed the transfer of critical energy supplies to the Gaza Strip, averting a certain fuel crisis.

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