Thousands Protest Electricity Cuts in Gaza Strip, Clash With Hamas Forces

Hamas security forces fire in the air to prevent the protesters from reaching the offices of the local power utility.

Demonstrators in Jabaliya refugee camp on Thursday, venting their anger against electricity cuts in the Gaza Strip.
Khalil Hamra / AP

Thousands of people took to the streets of Jabaliya refugee camp, in the north of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday to protest against the Strip's electricity ongoing crisis.

It was one of the largest unauthorized demonstrations in the enclave since Hamas took power a decade ago. Hamas security forces fired in the air to disperse stone-throwing protesters from reaching the offices of a local electricity utility, according to local media.

Tension has increased in Gaza in recent days due to the crisis. Homes in Gaza City currently have electricity only three to four hours a day, as opposed to eight hours a day before the crisis.  

On Wednesday, Hamas security forces arrested singer and comedian Adel Meshoukhi for making a video about the crisis and distributing it online. The video and other posts by Meshoukhi were sharply critical of Hamas and its government in Gaza, blaming them for the electricity crisis.

According to reports earlier this week, at least three babies have died in Gaza over the past few days due to the increasingly severe electricity crisis. One of the babies, who died in the Bureij refugee camp, was reportedly only 12 days old, and living with his family in a prefabricated dwelling not connected to electricity.

In Dir al-Balah an 8-month-old boy also died, along with a 3-month-old who died in Rafah on Monday.

The electricity crisis has apparently worsened because the electric authority in Gaza is unable to buy enough kerosene to fully operate its power station. Sources in the Strip blamed the Palestinian Authority which, they said, had refused to lift the tax on kerosene, thus raising the price by dozens of percentage points.

However, Palestinian Labor Minister Ma’moun Abu Shahla said in an interview with the Voice of Palestine radio station that the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip is to blame for imposing additional tariffs and taxes, which it does not send back to the Palestinian Authority.