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Electricity crisis leads Gaza hospitals to ‘reduce services’

Image of a Palestinian patient being treated in Gaza City on January 8, 2017 [Mohammed Dahman/Apaimages]
Image of a Palestinian patient being treated in Gaza City on January 8, 2017 [Mohammed Dahman/Apaimages]

The fuel crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip has led the Ministry of Health to “reduce services” in hospitals, it revealed today.

Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qadra said that health services were being reduced as it was “entering a tough phase due to the electricity crises and lack of fuel in hospitals and medical centres.”

As the political and electricity crises in the Gaza Strip continued to deepen, United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov today called for a united approach to the “tense” situation in the besieged coastal enclave.

Mladenov called for major reforms of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO), imploring Hamas to “ensure that collection rates are improved and that revenue collected in Gaza is returned to the legitimate Palestinian authorities in order to keep fuel and electricity supply flowing,” referring to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank which provides the Gaza Strip with fuel to run its sole power plant.

All in Gaza must share the burden by paying their bills. It is the poorest Palestinians in Gaza who pay the price for exceptions and privileges that others enjoy

Mladenov said.

The UN official called on the international community and Palestinian leadership to upgrade the electricity grid in Gaza, which currently provides a power supply that is less than one third of the daily consumption in Gaza.

United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov

United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov

The representative also called on the PA to facilitate the purchase of fuel for Gaza’s power plant “under conditions that temporarily alleviate or substantially reduce relevant fuel taxes,” referring to PA-imposed fuel taxes that sparked outrage in recent days, leading authorities in Gaza to accuse the PA of causing the ongoing crisis.

Mladenov also placed responsibility on Israel, calling on the government which has imposed a decade long blockade on Gaza, “to assist by facilitating the entry of materials for repairs and maintenance of the grid and power plant,” stressing also the importance of repairing and upgrading Egyptian power lines, which even at full working capacity in conjunction with Israeli electricity grids and Gaza’s power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs.

The social, economic and political consequences of this impending energy crisis should not be underestimated. Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures.

Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Sunday after fuel supplies funded by Qatar and Turkey in January dried up.

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