Middle East

Gaza electricity crisis: Hamas breaks up protest

Palestinians chant slogans during a demonstration against the chronic power cuts in the Jabaliya refugee camp Image copyright AP
Image caption Gaza has seen frequent protests in recent days over the power shortages

Security forces in Gaza have broken up a protest by thousands of people who demanded an end to electricity cuts.

Stones were thrown as security officers of the Hamas Islamist movement, which controls Gaza, fired in the air and dispersed the crowd.

Locals now get just four hours of power per day, instead of eight-hour cycles.

A vital plant was badly hit in fighting with Israel in 2014, but financial troubles and inter-Palestinian tensions have also contributed to the crisis.

A Hamas spokesman said security forces had tried to prevent protesters from storming the headquarters of the electricity company.

Gaza's two million residents have faced cold winter conditions. Some have improvised by burning scrap wood and using old kerosene heaters.

Protests in Gaza are rare but have grown as a result of the electricity crisis.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The electricity cuts in Gaza started late last year
Image copyright AP
Image caption The clashes erupted in the Jabalya refugee camp after thousands of people gathered to protest

Meanwhile, comedian Adel al-Mashwakhi was arrested hours after posting a video criticising Hamas, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"There is no work, no crossings, no food, no water to drink and also there is no electricity," he said in the one-minute video, which has been watched more than 250,000 times.

"Enough Hamas. Enough, enough, enough. We want electricity, we want electricity, we want electricity."

Hamas has not commented.