Friday, June 16, 2017
The power line falling at my house in Jerusalem is an infrequent yet completely delightful occasion. Just like every other house in the Western Hemisphere it's a great opportunity to shut our phones and sit down together as a family. However, down south of The State of Palestine hours without electricity in Gaza are the norm and matters are getting worse.
Israel supplies Gaza with 120-140 MGW through 10 electricity lines. Around 23 MGW are supplied through Egypt however these are not reliable. Together they make up around 150-160 MGW which account for 40% of what the UN estimates as the power supply needed to meet basic humanitarian standards which are 400 MGW.
So since april Gazans receive around 4 hours of electricity a day leaving businesses and schools unable to operate fully. Medical Aid for Palestinians CEO Aimee Shalan said: ““The international community’s failure to solve Gaza’s devastating fuel and electricity crisis – and the 10-year blockade and closure of which it is a part – is severely affecting the lives of ordinary Palestinians. With only a few hours of mains electricity per day, hospitals are forced to rely on generators for power, the fuel for which is now carefully rationed and in danger of running out entirely.
“Surgeries have already been cancelled, and hospitals forced to cut back on essential cleaning and sterilisation services. Medical equipment is rapidly degrading due to constant fluctuations in electrical current.”
However the issue is becoming more complex as The president of The Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas has casually informed Israel of their intention to pay 40% less on their monthly bill of 40 million shekels which are used to supply Gaza with Electricity. This will result in more electricity cuts by that reducing the 4 hours by 45 minutes.
The President of the PA has asked Israel to reduce the electricity as an attempt in a series of many to pressure Hamas ( The PA’s main rivalry) to step down from Gaza. Hamas took over in 2007 after a bloody coup.
Hamas has responded with an outcry calling Israel’s actions “disastrous” and that cutting power pushes Gaza even closer to explosion. However Israel is taking a nonchalant stance on this responding that the supply cut would be according to the payments received.
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarded this issue as an internal Palestinian dispute and that Israel is not part of this struggle.
Egypt meanwhile has offered to supply the much needed electricity if Hamas agrees to a list of security demands that include handing over 17 men wanted by cairo.
In the past Gaza used to have one power plant consisting of four power turbines which requires diesel fuel. At its optimum it can deliver 140 MGW. Hamas has used Turkish and Qatari funding to buy diesel however the power plant closed around january this year due to what Hamas claims as high taxes on the diesel fuel that is only supplied through the PA.
I couldn't help but notice The word Qatar there in the last paragraph and start my own interpretations as I love conspiracy theories . I need to point out that The past two years haven’t been as politically eventful in the middle east as the last four months ever since Trump’s visit. One of the reasons of the blockade on Qatar is due the fact that Qatar supports Hamas which is a terrorist organization in the eyes of countries such as Israel and the US. The lack of support from the surrounding countries including Cairo ( which takes part in the blockade) and Qatar's now inability to help could be putting Hamas under serious pressure. Is the US’s plan to end terrorism in the middle east or is it to end Hamas ?