Gaza on 4 Hours of Power a Day After Sole Electric Firm Shuts Down

Until the electricity generating plant is put back to work, the only source of electricity in the Gaza Strip will be that supplied by Israel

Palestinian children use candlelight to read books and draw due to electricity shortages in Gaza City on February 16, 2018.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

The electric company in the Gaza Strip will shut down the only power plant in Gaza because of a lack of diesel fuel to run the plant, the company announced on Thursday evening.

Until the electricity generating plant is put back to work, the only source of electricity in the Gaza Strip will be that supplied by Israel. The amount of electricity Israel can provide to Gaza is enough for four hours of power – followed by 16 hours of blackout a day.

The Gaza electric company said the reason for the lack of fuel is the closure of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Egypt has closed the crossing because of the security situation in the northern Sinai Peninsula due to the murderous attacks on Egyptian forces and civilians by affiliates of ISIS and other extremist Islamic groups in the Sinai. Egypt says such attacks make it difficult for it to provide fuel.

Last month, Israel renewed supplying 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza every day, as it had done until the middle of 2017. This electricity allowed an additional two hours of power every day for Gaza residents, for a total of six hours a day.

Israel restored the electricity supply to Gaza at the request of the Palestinian Authority as a result of progress in the reconciliation between the PA and Hamas. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah in the West Bank had requested that Israel to cut back on the electricity supply to Gaza to pressure Hamas and save money.  

In addition, on Wednesday local governments in Gaza announced cutbacks in municipal services to residents due to a lack of funds. Services are to be cut in half and as a result raw sewage is expected to flow into the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza coast, about 110,000 cubic meters a day. About 2,000 tons of garbage will remain uncollected in the streets of the Gaza Strip every day, too.

The decision to cut municipal service is a result of the punishment the Palestinian Authority has inflicted on Gaza and the continued “blockade by Israel,” said the local governments.

A medical clinic in Gaza that was shut down due to a lack of electricity, February 2018.
MOHAMMED SALEM/ Reuters

The cutbacks are meant to prevent a “complete collapse of municipal service and still provide a minimal level of services to resident, said Gaza City mayor Nizar Hijazi. But a continuation of the present policies will lead to a disaster in Gaza, he added.  

The Israeli security establishment warned last month that Gaza is on the verge of economic collapse, presenting data showing that 95 percent of the water in Gaza is unfit to drink and unemployment is nearing 50 percent.

Defense minister Avigdor Lieberman disagreed with these conclusions and even publically contradicted what IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has said on the matter. “The economic situation is not simple and we must deal with it, but there is no humanitarian crisis,” said Lieberman at the time.