The Real Blackout Throughout Israel Can't Be Blamed on Israel Electric

While parts of Israel suffered a two-day blackout, Gazans have been living with minimal electricity for years.


Disaster follows disaster in this disaster-struck land. The electricity was out for a few hours in parts of the country. In a few thousand homes, the catastrophe stretched into two and even three days, as did the public atmosphere. Almost a Holocaust. Apocalyptic headlines, live broadcasts from the centers of the disaster, the national news presenter with her face contorted in the type of pain reserved for disasters on such a scale. The daring journalists on the firing line (of candles) hyped up the drama.

The Unterman family is spending another night in darkness, reported one of them directly from the site of the humanitarian disaster. The Untermans have already thrown out all their cheese and milk; they are now eating only rolls and chocolate. A hot cup of coffee feels like winning the lottery. All the meat is spoiled. The anger has exploded after 60 hours of darkness. How can they abuse people in such a way? My mother-in-law with a Filipino caregiver cant even take a shower.

These are not conditions that you can live with. Its been like this since Sunday, charging the cell phone in the car. I will stay here with the people, the reporter from Channel 2 vows in solidarity, seemingly on the verge of crying.

True, a power blackout is not something pleasant. When it extends to a few days, it is even hard. It should not happen and there is a need for an immediate commission of inquiry.

But when a country responds hysterically to a two-day blackout, at a time when that same country is responsible for depriving millions of people of electricity for years; when a country loses it after a single night of candles, at a time when the fate of millions of its subjects and neighbors, who have lived this way for years, does not interest it in the least – then the true blackout is not that caused by the Israel Electric Corporation.

That is how they live in Gaza, just an hour-and-a-half from Bnei Zion. In most houses, the power is out 12 to 16 hours a day, every day. That has been the case for nine years already – winter and summer, at night and during the day. Over 70% of the households in Gaza receive water only every two to four days, and then for only six to eight hours. That, too, is due to the shortage of electricity.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA,) Gaza receives only 45% of the electricity it needs. It has been chronically short of fuel ever since Israel bombed the power station in 2006 and then enforced a blockade. There is not enough electricity in Gaza. Gilad Erdan once suggested disconnecting Gaza completely from Israeli electricity – hows that for an idea? – but the Supreme Court ruled back in 2007 that even though Israel has disengaged from Gaza, it is required to supply electricity because of the dependence created during the years of occupation.

One point eight million people. Their problem is not how to charge their cell phones in the car or where to shower their mother-in-law with the Filipino. Most have neither a car nor a Filipino. Tens of thousands of them do not even have a home, after Israel bombed it and they have no way of rebuilding it – which makes the electricity problem superfluous. Some dont even have meat in the refrigerator; bread and chocolate are luxuries for them.

They are people, and they live without electricity. Whatever happened this week in Ramat Hasharon has happened to them for years. If only there were more Israelis thinking about it in Ramat Hasharon. There are also thousands of people living without electricity at all in the Jordan Valley and in the southern Hebron hills. Two million Palestinians in the West Bank suffer from a shortage of water, facing settlements drunk on water.

People look out for themselves and the poor of your own town come first. Expressions such as those have brought Israeli society to record lows.When a country turns itself into a victim because of a power outage and is insensitive to the the millions of people alongside it for whom such a life is routine – it is not the electric company that is sick.