MAP’s team report on life in Gaza as electricity crisis deepens

People in Gaza are now living with just three hours of mains electricity per day after Israel reduced its power supply on Monday.

We have reported previously on the danger posed to medical care caused by the ongoing electricity and fuel crisis, with non-critical operations cancelled and hospital services such as cleaning, laundry and sterilisation cut. The lives of patients on intensive care, including approximately 100 new-born babies, are particularly at risk.

Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP) team in Gaza, who are fasting during Ramadan in temperatures of around 30˚C, have today reported the extraordinary frustrations posed to their day-to-day lives by the power cuts.

Basic domestic life is severely disrupted. It took one member of staff 24 hours to wash her clothes after they got stuck in the machine during a power outage until it could complete the cycle the following day. MAP’s team are unable to fully charge their phones or iron clothes in the little time they have access to mains electricity power.

Secondary school students are also badly affected, with many forced to study for their ‘tawjihi’ final exams by candle light.

Gaza’s only power plant, which has operated far below capacity for many years, shut down entirely in April due to a chronic shortage of fuel to power its turbines. This has left Gaza dependent on electricity supplied through power lines from Israel and Egypt, though the latter are often out of operation. Israel’s cuts to the electricity it supplies to Gaza follows a reported decision by the Palestinian Authority to reduce its payments to Israel for Gaza’s electricity supply by one third.

Yesterday, Egypt reportedly started to supply diesel fuel to Gaza in an attempt to get the power plant running again, though this is unlikely to meet all of Gaza’s power needs or provide a sustainable solution to the crisis.

The cuts came just days after Gaza marked 10 years under Israel’s blockade and closure. As the occupying power, Israel is obligated to ensure the habitability of Gaza and the welfare of its population. As Israeli Human Rights NGO Gisha has stated:

“Given its extensive control over life in the Strip, Israel is responsible for enabling normal life for its residents. Israel is obligated to find solutions that will allow for the continued supply of electricity at existing capacity, and to take active steps toward increasing supply, to allow residents to maintain acceptable living conditions.”

Israel and all other duty-bearers, including the international community, must refrain from taking actions which harm the lives of Gaza’s civilian population, and must urgently work towards resolving the current crisis and lifting the blockade and closure of Gaza.

To help call for the UK Government to take action to lift the blockade, please click here.


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