Did you hear the one about the shipments of fuel from Egypt to Gaza stopped by Hamas because they refused to let them pass through the Israeli crossing at Rafah?
No? Well, that’s because stories of Palestinian suffering caused by Hamas and Fatah rarely make the grade in most Australian and Western newsrooms. It’s a case of news editors saying: “No Israel angle? Then there’s nothing to see here folks”.
For those who have missed the “crisis”, for the last three weeks Gazans have suffered blackouts and power cuts due to insufficient fuel coming in to supply Gaza’s electricity power station. This of course means that refrigeration, bakeries, hospitals and water supplies are affected too.
But the energy crisis in Gaza has nothing to do with Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which allows through humanitarian essentials such as fuel, food and medical aid.
No, as Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes, “the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights announced this week that Palestinians — not Israel — were to blame for the electricity crisis”.
And as the Jerusalem Post reveals:
Hamas authorities on Saturday rejected an Egyptian proposal to bring in fuel via an Israeli crossing point to reactivate Gaza’s only power plant, which shut down four days ago when diesel supplies were disrupted.
“This is unacceptable because of our bitter experience with the Zionist occupation (Israel) and the way it controls the delivery of the shipments,” Ahmed Abu Al-Amreen of Gaza’s Hamas-run Energy Authority, told reporters.
This story from the Palestinian news service Maan explains that Hamas has been boycotting supplies from Israel:
Currently the only terminals designated for fuel are via Israel, but the Hamas government in Gaza has been bypassing them for over a year by pumping gas through tunnels from the Sinai.
But a shortage of fuel in Egypt has led smugglers to charge Gazans more for the fuel they are willing to supply through the tunnels.
It is not only Hamas that is negligent, as the Jerusalem Post reports the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority (PA) is “withholding funds that could help Gaza purchase fuel”.
Abu Toameh writes that PA “officials have accused Hamas of stealing the fuel for its own institutions and vehicles”.
Argy-bargy between the PA and Hamas over this issue is a regular occurrence. In 2010, the Jerusalem Post reported that the PA was withholding funds to purchase fuel as leverage “because Hamas is not transferring funds from the taxes it takes from electricity users”.
Significantly, this reverse blockade shows two important points about Hamas and Fatah’s leadership that human rights organisations concerned with the plight of Palestinians in Gaza are blind to.
First, it highlights the immorality of both Hamas and Fatah for allowing an artificial humanitarian crisis to unfold.
Second, in the case of Hamas, it reinforces the chasm between the rhetoric that it is beginning to moderate and the reality that it cannot even bring itself to accept fuel that Gaza badly needs lest it be interpreted as giving legitimacy to the Jewish state.
For more on the failure of both Fatah and Hamas to lay down the minimum foundations and structures needed to establish and run a genuine state, and the failure of the international community to make any attempt to force them to do so, read all of Khaled Abu Toameh’s article. Blogger ElderofZiyon has some good posts on the energy “crisis” too, here and here.