Hundreds of Palestinians from all levels of society have taken to the streets several times this week in protest at the severe electricity crisis hitting the Gaza Strip, QudsNet reported on Tuesday. Most of the demonstrators headed for the headquarters of the sole electricity plant in the centre of the coastal enclave, which has been targeted several times by the Israel Defence Forces since 2006.
The protesters called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah to take responsibility for solving the problem of severe electricity shortages. They also called for the PA to deal with the Gaza Strip in the same way that it deals with the occupied West Bank.
According to the Head of Rafah municipality, Sobhi Abu-Ridwan, the shortages affect the work of local councils across the whole territory. “We are unable to run the sewage plants and water wells to fulfil the need of the residents,” he said. “This has led to massive problems in the service sector, and a lot of vital equipment has stopped working.”
Abu-Ridwan called for Abbas to step in immediately to put an end to the electricity crisis. He stressed that Gaza has been the victim of several Israeli wars and has been living under siege for eight years. “As such,” he insisted, “fuel for the electricity plant must be exempt from taxes.”
Representatives of several Palestinian factions were among the protesters. Fatah official Jalal Sheikh Al-Eid said that he took part to register his protest at the 20-hour electricity cuts every day in Gaza.
The leader of the Democratic Front, Nafeth Ghoneem, added: “If there is a political problem between Egypt and Gaza, its effect must not be extended to the livelihood of the people.”
The Egyptian city of Rafah supplies Gaza’s Rafah with a small amount of electricity. Last week, though, the Egyptian authorities cut the power line, only to reconnect it a few days later.