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For 4th consecutive day, Israel reduces power to Gaza

FOR 4TH CONSECUTIVE DAY, ISRAEL REDUCES POWER TO GAZA

Israel continued to reduce the electricity supply to the blockaded Gaza Strip for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, according to Gaza's energy authority.

"Israel has reduced the electricity supply [to Gaza] by a further 8 megawatts, bringing the total reduction over the last four days to 32 megawatts," the Hamas-run energy authority said in a statement.

"These cuts will likely severely disrupt electricity distribution throughout Gaza due to the loss of several electricity lines," it added.

In a veiled reference to the Ramallah-based Palestinian government, the authority vowed to hold Israel and "other parties" responsible for the move's anticipated consequences.

Israel, for its part, says the reductions come at the request of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).

Before the reductions, Israel had supplied the Gaza Strip with 120 megawatts of electricity (out of 450 megawatts needed), which had represented the strip's main source of energy after its only functioning power plant went offline in April.

In a related development Wednesday, Egypt allowed industrial fuel into the blockaded Gaza Strip -- for the very first time -- to allow the power plant to resume operations.

The unexpected move was reportedly based on previous "understandings" between Egypt, Hamas -- which has governed the strip since 2007 -- and Mohammed Dahlan, a former member of the Palestinian Fatah movement currently based in the United Arab Emirates.

In April, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads up both the Ramallah government and the PA, vowed to take "unprecedented steps" to pressure Hamas into relinquishing control of the coastal territory.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip's roughly two million inhabitants have groaned under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade -- now in its tenth year -- that has deprived them of many basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

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