GAZA CITY — There was some small respite for residents of the Gaza Strip on Sunday as Israel restored the electricity it supplies to the Palestinian enclave after a nine-month-long hiatus.
However, even with the boost, homes will receive only about six hours of power a day.
Gaza residents have been caught in the middle of a political rift between Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the rival Hamas leadership in the strip.
Israel cut off 50 megawatts of electricity to Gaza last year after the Palestinian Authority said it would no longer pick up the bill for power supplied to Hamas territory while the group was running a shadow government in the strip.
That compounded the misery for residents of Gaza, suffering from stifling Israeli restrictions on goods and freedom of movement, while Egypt has kept its border crossing largely closed. The power cut meant that homes received only three or four hours of electricity a day. There was not enough power for sewage treatment, sending more than 25 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage into the sea each day.
But stuttering reconciliation efforts, brokered by Egypt, have made some progress, with Hamas saying it is willing to cede political control and dissolve its administration. In October, the two sides signed a reconciliation agreement sponsored by Egypt to restore control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.
A December deadline for power to be handed over slipped by, however, with issues such as whether Hamas can retain security control still posing major stumbling blocks.
Samira Hamadeh, a mother of three who lives in Gaza City, said that the power restoration marked a “big improvement” but that residents need more. “I wish to see electricity for 24 hours,” she said.
Qadura Fares, a senior Fatah official, said President Trump’s announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had spurred efforts to present a united Palestinian front and end the decade-long rift between the two factions. “Trump’s decision made us very keen to speed up the reconciliation process,” he said.
The power was switched back on after the local electricity company promised to do a better job of collecting payments from consumers.
The Gaza Strip relies on three sources of energy, but combined they are not enough to meet its needs. The bulk of electricity comes from Israel, which supplies a total of 120 megawatts. About 60 megawatts comes from a power plant that is not fully operational because of fuel shortages. And about 15 to 20 megawatts come from Egypt, but security problems in the Sinai Peninsula mean that supply is unreliable.
Loveday Morris and Sufian Taha in Jerusalem contributed to this report.