Gaza power cut raising concerns about humanitarian crisis

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 16 Jun 2017, 21:08:58
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Gaza power cut raising concerns about humanitarian crisis

GAZA CITY, June 16 (AP): The Gaza Strip is in the midst of an electricity shortage that has left residents with just a few hours of power a day, turning many aspects of everyday life in the Hamas-ruled territory upside down and raising concerns about a humanitarian crisis.

Gaza's power woes began in 2006, when Israel bombed the territory's power plant after Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier.

It took years for the power plant to be fixed, but due to its limited capacity and growth in Gaza's population, it provides just a small fraction of the territory's needs. As a result, Gaza relies on electricity purchased from neighboring Israel and Egypt.

For several years, Gaza has scraped by with roughly eight hours of electricity a day. But in recent months, the situation has worsened due to a combination of factors.

The power plant has not operated since April after emergency fuel shipments, purchased from Israel by Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey, ended. Electricity deliveries from Egypt, which is busy fighting its own Islamic militants, are unreliable, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, locked in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, wants to reduce electricity purchases for Gaza by about 40 percent.

This reduced supply, combined with peak demand during the Ramadan holiday season, has created rolling blackouts that give people just two to four hours of power at a time.

The blackouts are most noticeable at night, when Gaza City, the territory's capital, and other population centers are largely in the dark.

Residents must carefully plan daily tasks such as doing the laundry or taking a shower when they expect to have power, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night. Many Gazan homes use electric water pumps, so no electricity also means no water.

Many homes and businesses also rely on gasoline-fueled generators to keep the lights on or elevators running for a few extra hours a day. Others turn to large batteries to run household appliances. A privileged few can afford solar panels to provide hot water, and a new industry of ice salesmen has sprouted up to help keep refrigerators cool.

Still, most residents are unable to keep their refrigerators running full-time and instead go shopping each day for items like milk and meat. Power-hungry appliances like air conditioning are rarely used, and in the hot summer weather,

many residents flock to the beach at sundown to break the daily Ramadan fast because their homes are so uncomfortable.

The Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Abbas' forces, leaving him in control only of autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
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