With the prospect looming of a Middle East peace initiative by a new U.S. administration more sympathetic to Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to turn the screw on the Hamas group that has kept Gaza out of his control for a decade.
Abbas's Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) on Thursday told Israel it would no longer pay for the electricity Israel supplies to Gaza, a move that could lead to a complete power shutdown in the territory, whose 2 million people already endure blackouts for much of the day. Israel does not engage directly with Hamas, regarding the Islamist group as a terrorist organization.
The PA declined to say why it had taken the step, but had already put pressure on Hamas by withholding the Israeli fuel that until two weeks ago powered Gaza's only generating plant, and slashing the salaries of the civil servants who are one of the mainstays of Gaza's struggling economy.
Medical workers say health services are on the verge of breakdown, while shopkeepers say they are struggling. more