Gaza in dark after last power plant turned off
GAZA CITY: Gaza has been plunged into darkness after the last operating power plant in the coastal territory was turned off on Wednesday due to a severe shortage of fuel
Officials at the Hamas-run power corporation said they had turned off the last operating turbine at the plant in southern Gaza city.
More than 2 million residents have been living under an Israeli and Egyptian siege for 10 years after the Islamist group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.
The siege, involving restrictions in the import of fuel and electricity, and other necessities has made it difficult for hospitals, desalination and sewerage plants to operate, leading to a shortage of drinking water.
Gaza’s infrastructure is barely functioning due to a shortage of parts needed for repairs and the restrictions on imports.
During the last few months the critical humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by a power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – which nominally control the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in conjunction with the Israelis, has reduced payment for Gaza’s electricity, limited exit permits for chronically ill Palestinians requiring medical treatment abroad, forced early retirement on 6 000 public servants while reducing the salaries of others, and limited the supply of baby formula and medicine to Gaza – in a desperate attempt to pressurise Hamas politically.
As Gaza faced a blackout two weeks ago, Egypt, whose relationship with Hamas has recently improved, stepped in and supplied 4 million litres of fuel. However, this was insufficient.
In a report “Gaza Ten Years Later”, released two days ago by the UN, the agency warned that the humanitarian situation had deteriorated even faster than was predicted when it warned in 2012 that the coastal territory would be unliveable by 2020. Life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” wrote Robert Piper, the UN Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“This year electricity is the most visible deterioration in the living conditions but it comes on top of a host of other chronic and acute problems,” said Piper. “In my fortnightly visits to Gaza I am constantly amazed at the resilience of a people who manage to get by despite such odds.”
A family build a fire outside their makeshift house during a power cut in a poor neighbourhood in the town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.