On Monday, June 12, Israeli officials announced that the current four hours of electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip per day will be reduced by an additional 45 minutes. The move comes after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it would reduce the amount it pays Israel for electricity intended for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, claiming that Hamas has not been reimbursing the PA for its electricity supply. A PA spokesman also demanded that Hamas abide by unification measures proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, including presidential and parliamentary elections. It is not clear how soon the further reduced electricity supply schedule will be implemented.
A spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza stated that given that Gaza's main electricity plant is not in operation due to a Hamas-PA conflict over taxes, a further reduction in electricity supplies could severely damage health services, many of which rely on low-quality individual generators.
The PA currently pays Israel USD 11 million (40 million shekels) per month for electricity using PA tax revenues. The PA acts as an intermediary between Hamas and Israel because Israel refuses to interact with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.
In May, the PA announced that it would only cover 70 percent of the Gaza Strip's monthly electricity costs. On Sunday, June 11, the Israeli security cabinet decided that Israel would not finance the remaining costs.
Tensions have been rising between Hamas and the PA in recent months. The rival groups agreed to form a unity government in 2014 but it has not been supported in Gaza. In recent months the PA has cut salaries to civil servants in the Gaza Strip and increased taxes on Israeli fuel for the area's only power plant. PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Wednesday, April 26, that the salary cuts would remain in place until Hamas started moving towards reconciliation.
Individuals in Israel and the Palestinian territories are advised to keep abreast of the situation and to avoid any public demonstrations due to the risk of violence.
On a separate note, due to the prevailing threat of terrorism, individuals throughout Israel should report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and always be on guard when visiting sites deemed particularly vulnerable to an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.).