Israel restricts power to Gaza after balloons spark fires

June 25, 2019
An Israeli soldier battles a fire started by an incendiary device launched from Gaza Strip, near the Israel and Gaza border fence, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel says it has cut off fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip in response to the launch of incendiary balloons, resulting in new power cuts in the impoverished territory.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said Tuesday it would halt fuel supplies until further notice due to recent outbreak of fires in southern Israel.

Gaza’s electricity company says the shortage resulted in a partial shutdown of Gaza’s only power plant, causing an “unpredictable” shortage in “the already disturbed” situation. At full capacity, the plant powers Gaza for 16 hours a day.

Electricity is a contentious issue between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s militant rulers.

Hamas accuses Israel of not fulfilling pledges to increase power supplies. Israel accuses Hamas of using mass border protests as cover for violence.

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