Israeli PM says Gaza power crisis "an internal matter"

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Israel's decision to stop supplying electricity would be "dangerous and catastrophic", said Hamas a spokesperson on Monday.

According to a report from the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Egypt has since offered Hamas increased electricity supply and more freedom at the Rafah border crossing in exchange for a list of security demands.

According to the briefing given to the ministers, neither Egypt nor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to come to the aid of the Gazans, and Israel is left with no choice but to act with extreme caution to prevent the situation from escalating.

"The decision of the occupation to reduce the electricity to Gaza at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is catastrophic and unsafe". The PA informed Israel in April that it was no longer prepared to foot the electricity bill for Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007 when it violently ousted Fatah from power there.

The enclave, which operates on a rotational system of six to eight hours of electricity followed by 12-hour blackouts, will now face a rationed two to four hours of electricity a day.

Hamas is also likely to be harmed by the decision last week by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on the emirate of Qatar, which has provided Hamas with financial and political support.

Now the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, over the latter's support for what the Saudis call "terrorist groups", including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, could have further negative consequences for Gaza.

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Whether the tensions will lead to another escalation between Hamas and Israel is a question constantly being posed.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Friday said it has protested to the Islamist movement Hamas after finding a tunnel under two of its schools in the Gaza Strip. The official estimated that the reduction would limit power in Gaza to three hours a day.

Since Gaza's sole power plant was put out of commission in mid-April after it ran out of fuel, Israel has become nearly the only source of electricity to the Strip.

For decades, Israeli officials have claimed that without UNRWA providing for the needs of the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Israel would be held responsible.

Israel accuses Hamas of building an extensive underground tunnel network to use for cross-border attacks against Israel and Netanyahu claimed Hamas was using children from the UNRWA school as "human shields". "But we have an interest in security, and our policy is clear on the subject of security and it won't change", he said. "It is unacceptable that Hamas collects taxes from the Gaza residents and the money goes to tunnels and rockets and not to developing the electricity and water economy".

Gunness said the agency had "robustly intervened and protested to Hamas in Gaza".

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