Gaza is facing an energy crisis and the Hamas government has reached the end of the road. The problem revolves around the Hamas insistence of relying on smuggled fuel rather than having to pay either Israel or Egypt full price. Perhaps a little history mapping how Hamas now finds itself at a dead end in the road is in order. Originally Gaza was supplied with one-third of its electricity directly by Israel and the fuel to run its power plant and just about everything else was purchased from Israel. The Israelis even continued with this arrangement through a series of increased rocket and mortar barrages as it also continued with the transfer of food, medical and other sundry supplies by truck through the Gaza crossing. Israel even continued all of these supplies during the Cast Lead Operation when the IDF entered Gaza in a seek and destroy mission to attempt to cripple the Hamas and other terrorist entities ability to continue to fire rockets into Israel paralyzing the south of the country. But, as with most good things in Palestinian life, this just had to come to an end as Hamas refused to pay for either the electricity or the fuel.
After Hamas eventually balked at paying Israel for the fuel and electricity, another plan was worked out where Hamas would receive the electricity from Egypt and Egypt would transfer fuel to Gaza through the Israeli crossing into Gaza and Hamas would deal with Egypt. It was hoped this arrangement would satisfy Hamas as they no longer were paying Israel for power or fuel. Just as Hamas had claimed against Israel, they now felt that Egypt was charging them exorbitant amounts for the fuel. Hamas felt they could get all their needed fuel for less by bringing it through the smuggling tunnels. This source of fuel did not cost near as much plus Hamas got to tax any of the fuel that went to the Palestinians as they tax everything else which comes through the smuggling tunnels and is sold to the people. The problem that arose was that Egypt was also facing a fuel shortage since the overthrow of the Mubarak government and so they cracked down of the smuggling of fuel into Gaza through the tunnels. This caused Gaza and Hamas to face an imminent fuel shortage.
Hamas then began a universal call for aid to avert the looming crisis. The European Union arranged through the Palestinian Authority a fund with which to purchase fuel for Gaza with the understanding that the fund was a loan to be repaid once Hamas made payment for the fuel. This fund was to act as a guarantor of payment for Hamas so the shipment of fuel could be expedited. This is where Hamas chose to cut off its nose to spite their face. Egypt agreed to immediately ship the needed fuel into Gaza through the Gaza crossings in Israel. Hamas insisted that Egypt make the transfer through the Rafah Gate on the Gaza Egypt border. Egypt refused insisting on using the Israeli crossing more likely than not simply for reasons of security. Egypt did not wish to risk any problems which might arise once they would regularly need to open the Egypt Gaza crossing in order to send truck in and receive them out of Gaza. They probably feared smuggling or other breaches of security and preferred that be an Israeli problem.
Hamas remained adamant and refused to receive the fuel except through the Rafah Crossing where Gaza borders Egypt. They felt secure that in doing so they could still rely on receiving sufficient fuel supply through the smuggling tunnels which is probably their preferred source as Hamas prefers not to be bothered with the little pesky things about ruling such as supplying electricity, distributing fuel, running the water pumps, running the waste treatment plants, and anything else any normal society expects from their leaders. One must understand that Hamas is in the terror and terror funding business which leaves little room for actual governing. So, Hamas now sits demanding it will only receive fuel through Rafah, Egypt remains adamant that the fuel be shipped through Israel, and Gazans are facing a crisis of far reaching proportions. Hamas last week attempted to place the blame for this in the lap of the Israelis and was actually rebuked by the United Nations who immediately pointed out that Hamas was dealing with Egypt and that Israel played no part in this situation, a refreshing change having the United Nations back Israel.
So, Gaza is facing an imminent challenge of no electricity and no fuel supply. The ramifications are extensive and daunting. Without electricity and without fuel the hospitals will be unable to provide any critical care and many other services. Gaza will not have water running through their water system without power to run the pumps. Waste treatment stops altogether, something Gaza has had problems with in the past even when they had power. Their shops, restaurants, and other businesses shut down except for some street vendors and small shops. I fully expect Hamas to once again attempt to place the blame upon Israel if they do not back down and take the shipments from Egypt even if they pass through Israel. Hamas is about to learn that beggars cannot be choosers and sometimes compromise is part of government. But then, Hamas needs many, many lessons on what it takes for becoming good governance.
Beyond the Cusp
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has reportedly purchased the fuel from Israel. Coordinator of Government Activities in Yesha, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, has agreed to open the Kerem Shalom Crossing on Friday for the purpose of transferring the diesel. This is most likely being paid with the loaned European monies which will be viewed by Hamas and the leaders of the Gaza governance as a gift from the silly fools in Europe and never be repaid.