P.A. Says Hamas 'Staging' Blackouts

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RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian Authority (PA) officials said Hamas is staging blackouts in the Gaza Strip as a propaganda tool to incite Palestinians against the PA, Israel and the U.S.

"There's no shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip and the Electric Company Gaza Power Plant is continuing to function normally," one PA official told Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh.

"Our people in the Gaza Strip have told us that the blackouts are all staged as part of the Hamas propaganda," he said.

Hamas staged a similar show last January when it invited journalists to a candlelight session of the Palestinian Legislative Council, though light could be seen in the windows despite the drawn shades.

According to one PA official, the al-Jazeera network's broadcasts depicting women and children in candlelight protests were intended to win sympathy for Hamas.

"There's enough fuel in the Gaza Strip," the official said. "Even when Israel reduces the fuel supplies, Hamas continues to smuggle tens of thousands of liters through the underground tunnels," he said.

On Thursday, a senior official in the Gaza Electric Company, quoted on Fatah's Pal-Press Web site, accused Hamas of pilfering fuel intended for the power grid.

The unnamed electric company official said that 70 percent of the electricity for Gaza residents is provided by Israel and Egypt (60/10 percent, respectively), with the remainder provided by the Gaza power plant.

"Hamas has seized more than 220,000 liters of fuel that was intended for the generators belonging to our company," he said. "There's no shortage of fuel, and as such, there is no reason for a crisis," he said.

Hamas gunmen, he said, had demanded that they cut electricity to some areas in the Strip to make it appear that outages from lack of fuel were being caused by Israel's closure of border crossings.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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