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Amnesty calls for an end to the power crisis in Gaza

February 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

On 1 November, Gaza’s only power plant, which normally provides around 30 per cent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, ran out of fuel. For the past month, Gaza’s 1.7 million residents have been living with no electricity for 16 hours a day.

Since the power plant shut down, several sewage and water plants have failed. “For each day that the Gaza power plant does not receive fuel, the risk of a massive public health crisis increases,” warned Philip Luther of Amnesty International.

The already limited water supply to households across the Strip has been further reduced. Almost 65 per cent of Gaza’s population receives water only once every three or four days. Sewage has been forced to divert to open channels, lagoons, or the sea, whilst other sewerage plants are close to overflowing. All water and wastewater facilities in the Gaza Strip have been relying on standby generators, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Hospitals and other health facilities throughout the Gaza Strip have also been relying on their own generators, and at a very high cost. However, as the generators are also affected by fuel shortages, the functioning of services including kidney dialysis, intensive care units and operating theatres has been jeopardized, thereby placing patients’ lives at risk.

The Gaza Strip’s businesses, construction, and agricultural work have all stopped due to shortages of fuel and building materials. Additionally, bakeries have reduced production and Gaza residents are now forced to queue to buy bread as transportation throughout the Strip has been limited.

“The blockade has collectively punished Gaza’s population in violation of international law,” according to Amnesty International. The organisation demanded for the Israeli authorities to “lift the blockade immediately, starting by allowing urgently needed fuel supplies into the Strip.”