Gaza plunges into darkness as power crisis continues
Gaza was plunged into darkness late Friday as the territory's Hamas-run power authority cut electricity across the besieged enclave in protest against the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas, who control Gaza, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, have for years blamed each other for an electricity crisis in the besieged coastal enclave.
Gaza's power alternates on eight-hour cycles, with those who can afford it using generators in the down times.
On Friday, Gaza's power authority cut electricity in the coastal territory from 7 pm until 11 pm in protest against the PA's recent decision to cut public sector salaries for Gaza employees and tax disputes over the import of fuel.
The PA responded by saying Hamas was attempting to create a "new crisis" in Gaza, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Earlier in April, a decision by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in Gaza sparked widespread anger.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in Gaza to protest the 30-percent pay cut, with demonstrators calling on PA president Mahmoud Abbas to sack his government.
The PA says it was forced into the move because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid. PA salaries in the West Bank, however, remained untouched.
Gaza's sole power plant is on the verge of shutting down as Qatari and Turkish fuel supplies run out. Gazan authorities have no other choice than to buy additional fuel from the PA, but say recent tax hikes make it unaffordable.
In January, thousands of Gazans took the streets to protest chronic power shortages in one of the largest unauthorised protests in Gaza since Hamas took power in 2007.
Hamas security forces quickly suppressed the demonstration and blocked journalists from filming.
A day earlier, a local comedian was arrested for making a satirical video criticising power cuts. "There is no work, no (border) crossing points, no food, no water and also no electricity," Adel al-Mashwakhi said in the video clip, which amassed over 250,000 views.
Gaza has been under a suffocating Israeli-Egyptian blockade for over 10 years, severely damaging the enclave’s economy.
In 2015, the United Nations warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current political and economic trends caused by Israeli policies continue.