Hamas and Fatah recently accused Israel of preventing fuel supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip—a move that has deprived nearly 600,000 Palestinians of electricity for the past five days. Israel, the two parties claimed, is responsible for the power stoppage because of its “ongoing siege” of the Gaza Strip.
Sadly, many in the international media were quick to endorse the Hamas-Fatah version. Headlines in major newspapers and reports on television networks quoted Hamas and Fatah spokesmen as saying that the IDF had banned fuel supplies to the power plant in the Gaza Strip as part of its policy to “punish” the innocent Palestinian population.
But now the real story behind the electricity fiasco has surfaced. The same Hamas and Fatah spokesmen who had blamed Israel now were accusing each other. The EU, it emerged, had stopped funding the fuel supplies, after being told by Fatah leaders in Ramallah that Hamas had taken control of the electricity company in the Gaza Strip, and was planning to extort money from customers through electricity bills.
For the first time, I found myself this week agreeing with both Hamas and Fatah when I heard them trade allegations. How can one disagree when Hamas calls Fatah’s leaders a bunch of corrupt opportunists bilking the international community of millions of dollars under the pretext that the alternative would be the rise of Muslim fundamentalism ? And how can one disagree with Fatah’s accusations that Hamas is a bloodthirsty terrorist organization that is driving the Palestinians towards the abyss?
As the electricity crisis shows, Hamas and Fatah are prepared to use all methods in their power struggle, even if hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have to spend days and nights without electricity.
Fortunately, the Palestinians have not made the mistake that many foreign journalists did when they rushed to blame Israel for the latest crisis.
The majority of the Palestinians have already paid a heavy price for the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah. That’s why the Palestinians react to statements made by the two sides’ leaders with skepticism and extreme caution. Perhaps it’s time that foreign journalists sitting in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, who these days rarely visit the West Bank and Gaza Strip, follow suit, and display a degree of caution when it comes to reporting on the Hamas-Fatah fight.