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In Gaza, we get four hours of electricity a day — if we're lucky

posted on: Aug 22, 2017



In Gaza, we get four hours of electricity a day — if we're lucky
A small shop is seen between houses of Palestinian refugees during a power outage at al Shateaa refugee camp in Gaza City on July 30. (Mohammed Saber / EPA)


Some friends threw me a surprise birthday party last month. They placed a chocolate cake lit with candles before me and told me to make a wish for the year ahead. I immediately blurted out, “24-hour electricity and air conditioning.” They laughed and suggested I wish for something more realistic.

Here in the Gaza Strip, 24-hour electricity has been a distant dream for well over a decade. Israel’s bombings of Gaza’s only power plant, its closing of the Gaza border and fallout from the split between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have meant chronic power outages. Not long ago, we had adjusted to eight hours of electricity a day. Now even that seems a luxury.

Our power comes from three sources: Israel, Egypt and our single functional power plant, which runs on fuel. Even before the current crisis, only about half of Gaza’s electricity needs were being met. Then there was a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over payment for the fuel, both refused to pay, and the plant shut down in April, reducing the already inadequate supply by about 25%.

In June, Israel acceded to a Palestinian Authority request to cut the electricity it provided to Gaza in order to “dry up” funds to Hamas. This reduced supply by an additional 30% or so. That same month, Egypt began providing the fuel needed for the power plant, and the plant reopened. Even so, we are living with a new norm of four hours of electricity a day or less.