Hundreds of thousands of people living in the Palestinian Gaza Strip have been left without electricity, after the European Commission halted a subsidy that paid for fuel supplies to Gaza's only power plant over concerns that the de facto Hamas leadership is planning to impose an electricity tax to fund its regime, the BBC has reported.
According to the BBC, the European Commission (EC) has been supplying a fuel subsidy of approximately $9 million each month, which provides 25% to 30% of the Gaza Strip’s total power supply. However, it has called a stop to the fuel aid program until it receives assurance from Hamas that it is not planning to profit from the humanitarian subsidy.
In a statement cited by the BBC, the EC confirmed: We are ready to resume our support to the Gaza power plant within hours once we receive the appropriate assurances that all the funds will be exclusively used for the benefit of the Gaza population.
The Nusseirat power plant is run by the Gaza Generating Company. According to the BBC, the plant provides electricity for around 25% of the strip’s 1.5 million-strong population. Reuters reported that the EU has been paying for the power station’s fuel, which is provided by a private Israeli company, since 2006.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and the commission was worried that the organization, which is looked upon as a terrorist movement by the US, EU and Israel, was planning to collect revenues from power production and use them to fund what is widely seen to be an illegal regime.
According to the BBC, Hamas has denied that it was planning to impose a tax on electricity bills. The publication has reported that a number of Middle Eastern newspapers have accused the EC of abusing human rights.