Egypt Offers to Bail Hamas Out of Electricity Woes - On Condition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke from the Government of Israel's longstanding policy and stated that UNRWA, the internationally funded United Nations body dedicated to providing health, education, welfare and legal services to Palestinian "refugees", should be shut down.

Israel has besieged the Gaza Strip, home to almost two million people, since Hamas wrested control of the territory from the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Egypt accused Hamas of aiding the militants of Islamic State (IS).

Earlier, Abbas reduced payment to PA employees in the Gaza Strip by 40 percent, and said the PA would soon stop providing medicines and baby formula to hospitals in the Gaza Strip - as a means of pressuring his political rival Hamas.

"A Hamas tunnel has recently been discovered under two schools in the Gaza Strip", Netanyahu announced in a statement directed at the United Nations, according to CBN News.

The agency is funded nearly entirely through voluntary contributions by United Nations member states and its services include education, health care and emergency relief.

Thabat said that Gaza residents now have electricity between three to four hours a day and it's hard to assess what their situation would be after any further cuts.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel's Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), condemned Hamas on his office's Arabic language Facebook page.

The Haaretz newspaper reports that Israel's Cabinet chose to cut back supplies but this could not be immediately confirmed.

Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, enforced a blockade on Gaza a decade ago when Hamas took over the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

An Israeli official told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz that the cabinet accepted the Israeli army's "recommendation against leniency toward Hamas and to act in accordance with" Abbas' request.

The official said Israel was searching for global donors to make up the difference but that Israel would not itself pay for Gaza's power.

Israel accuses Hamas of building an extensive underground tunnel network to use for cross-border attacks against Israel and Netanyahu claimed Hamas was using children from the UNRWA school as "human shields".

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007, when it seized it in a near civil war from Abbas's Fatah following a dispute over parliamentary elections won by the Islamist movement.

The decision might have fatal consequences for Gaza's healthcare situation, as the enclave's medical facilities already largely rely on small standalone generators, according to spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra.

The supply of power to Gaza works through a complicated mechanism that reflects the tangled relationship between Israel and the PA.

The list received by Sinwar from Egyptian intelligence personnel during his visit to Cairo reportedly stressed the need for the completion of "security understandings", according to A-Sharq.

  • Rogelio Becker