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Report: 32 Palestinians died from electricity cuts in Gaza since 2010

Two Palestinian children playing games on the device at their familiy's home during an electricity power cut in the Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip on 7 February 2012 [Ali Jadallah]
Palestinian children playing games in the dark during an electricity power cut in the Gaza Strip [Ali Jadallah]

At least 32 Palestinians in Gaza, 25 of whom were children, have died in the Gaza Strip since 2010 due to the enclave’s electricity crisis, according to the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights.

The Strip has witnessed blackouts and power shortages since the Israeli blockade began in 2006, prompting residents to use fires or fuel generators to stay warm and provide light. However harsh conditions, particularly in the winter when temperatures at night drop below freezing, have prompted several deaths.

At least 36 people, including 20 children, have also experienced injuries due to fires caused by candles that they were forced to light, or generators exploding, within the same time period.

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Al-Mezan also highlights that such crude ways of staying warm and lit have had negative impacts on the environment, particularly with the spread of large and high yield generators in shops and institutions that pollute the air with emissions.

Power outages in Gaza inhibit many aspects of life for Palestinians, with outages experienced during the school day and often preventing families from cooking in the evenings.

The continued siege, now in its twelfth year, has particularly impacted medical treatment, with hospitals regularly being forced to stop treating patients due to electricity cuts.

Last month, Medhat Abbas, director general of Gaza’s largest hospital, warned of the danger of power outages for many departments such as dialysis, intensive care, surgery rooms, outpatient clinics and sections of radiation.

“The lack of electricity poses a direct threat to the lives of civilians inside the besieged Gaza Strip,” he said. “[In a few days] there will be no fuel to run generators used to provide power needed to operate departments and organs of the hospital.”

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Abbas added that the donors the Ministry of Health relied on to provide fuel to their hospitals were no longer available.

Whilst the Strip’s Electricity Distribution Company signed a deal earlier this month to carry out the largest solar energy project in the coastal enclave, worth $2.5 million and funded by the International Bank, such projects remain rare.

Gaza, which continues to groan under Israeli siege, has been declared “unliveable” by the UN, three years ahead of the original prediction.

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