Israel’s security cabinet held a hearing last night on a growing electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip and the ministers unanimously decided several hours later to accede to a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reduce Israel’s supply of electricity to the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave by 35 percent. During the hearing, which was also attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Military Intelligence Chief Herzi Halevi and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian territories Yoav Mordechai, the military officials warned the cabinet ministers that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is very grave and is liable to bring about a violent escalation.
Nevertheless, a political official stressed that the IDF has recommended not to ease restrictions on Hamas and to act in accordance with the request by the Western-backed Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, a move aimed at pressuring the Islamist leadership in the Gaza Strip. The official also pointed to the fact that Hamas has continued to employ terror and to dig Gaza’s tunnels network, a fact which provides Israel the legitimacy under international-law, to act against Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization.
While the IDF believes Hamas is not interested in a military conflict with Israel, at this time, the generals emphasized that Israel must be prepared for a conflict to break out if one side miscalculates the other side’s actions. The hearing also discussed the deteriorating situation between Gulf states and Qatar, considering the fact that Doha is currently the main financer of civilian activity in the Gaza Strip. If this support stops because of the boycott by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar, the humanitarian situation in the strip could deteriorate, leading to possible military escalation. According to the military briefing given to the ministers, neither Egypt nor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to come to the aid of the Gazans, and Israel is left with no choice but to act with extreme caution to prevent the situation from escalating.