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A total blackout in Gaza

March 31, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Palestine Remix is an interactive tool that allows users to view or use parts of various Al Jazeera documentary films on Palestine to create their own productions. As part of a blog series MEMO will be remixing one video every week, highlighting an aspect of life in Palestine or an issue related to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Our final Palestine Remix video takes a look at the dire electricity crisis in Gaza, due to the suffocating blockade by the Egyptian-Israeli policies. You can read Part I: Cruelty inside Israeli prisons, Part II: Hunger striking as a form of non violent resistance, Part III: Fishing for a living in Gaza and Part IIII: Deportation: A key tool of Zionism.

An Israeli airstrike in June 2006 targeting Gaza’s only power plant marked the start of an ongoing electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, which has had serious humanitarian ramifications for residents.

According to a 2014 report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), only approximately 46 per cent of Gaza’s electricity demand is being met, a 54 per cent deficit. This supply comes from three sources: purchases from Israel of a 120 megawatts, purchases from Egypt of 28 megawatts, and the plant’s production of approximately 60 megawatts. Israeli airstrikes combined with fuel shortages left the plant unable to operate at its full capacity of 120 megawatts. This has been aggravated by the destruction of the smuggling tunnels with Egypt.

The restrictions on the import of spare parts, equipment and fuel due to the Israeli siege, in addition to several other factors such as the ongoing dispute between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas government in Gaza over the funding of fuel for the plant, the limited collection of bills from consumers, and the bombing of the plant and destruction of fuel storage tanks by Israeli airstrikes in July 2014, have further exacerbated the electricity crisis in Gaza.

The Gaza power plant has been forced to shut down completely on many occasions due to the lack of fuel, resulting in blackouts and scheduled power cuts of up to 16 hours a day across the Gaza Strip. The insufficient supply of electricity and fuel has severely hindered the delivery of basic services. Water pumps and wells have not been operational, reducing the availability of running water in most households and undermining agricultural livelihoods and sewage treatment efforts. Medical services have also been severely disrupted.

Gaza’s residents normally resort to back-up generators, which also depend on expensive and scarce fuel, as well as other alternatives such as batteries, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) devices and candles. This has increased the risk of fires and led to serious accidents and deaths.

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