The Gaza Strip, a 365 km² Palestinian city, lies on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of 2,135,482 people, according to the latest study published by the General Administration of Civil Status in 2018.
So far, Gaza has been through three wars and a decade of blockade by Israel and Egypt, in the Mediterranean. Gaza’s current situation is full of bitterness, and the imposed block affects every living creature there. The wars on the Palestinian land have left people living in complete darkness. More than two million Palestinians in Gaza are now suffering from political, economic, social, cultural, and educational challenges. Unfortunately, one of the main challenges that people living there have to deal with is electricity shortage.
Electricity crises have become one of the outstanding problems in Gaza, “Electricity is on only 2 hours per day, sometimes less. We need electricity for everything like the washing machine, iron, fridge, the vacuum cleaner. All these machines require electricity, and 2 hours leave me unable to do anything. We may get electricity in the middle of the night, so I can’t even enjoy my sleeping time. Sometimes, electricity is on while I’m at work, and it would be off when I get back.” Om Shadi said, a teacher and mother of 4 kids who live in Jabalia, Gaza.
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The main sources of electricity
In 2006 the Israeli military bombed the only power plant in Gaza. Since then, Gaza has been under blockade, and importing parts to replace the damaged components haven’t been permitted. Therefore, temporary fixes to allow minimal level power plant functioning for a short time. With the attempts to decrease the power crisis by smuggling fuel from Egypt halted in 2013, the Israeli airstrikes destroyed the infrastructure and the distribution networks throughout Gaza in 2014. Sometimes, the smuggling fule process succeeds. However, the fule that comes through does not match the specifications required for the operation of power plants. Therefore, the shortage of fuel and the limitation on fuel importing have caused operating the power plant at less than one-third of its capacity and shutting it down regularly since 2017.
Gaza has no other option but to buy electricity from Israel since Gaza’s electrical grid is linked with the Israeli system. But Israel limits its sold power to Gaza, and the local existing power lines can only supply a fraction of Gaza’s total needs, causing further limiting electricity in buildings, schools, factories, hospitals, and everywhere.
The Daily Electricity Challenges
“To study, we have to take advantage of the electricity and be ready before it’s gone again. Normally we continue studying under the candlelight,” Ahmad said, the 17 years old student. While at schools there is no electricity to supply the required equipment and computer screens are blank most often. When teachers have more work to do, they ensure that they completely charged their laptops before, or they work only during the hours of electricity availability.
Due to the need for electricity to pump water through pipes, over 70% of Gaza households get water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days. “In winter live is way worse, so we fire what is possible to warm ourselves,” Ahmad added. “When I wash or clean clothes, both water and electricity have to be available. Electricity is on, only for a short time, so I stop everything else I work at and wash the cloth first,” Rajaa Moustafa said, the boy’s mother.
On the other hand, the electricity shortage is jeopardizing hospitals’ functionality. The current fuel reserves are hardly enough to sustain critical hospital services for only a short time, depending on the number of hours of electricity cuts. Therefore, Hospitals Electricity is working at its minimal capacity just to ensure the continuity of life.
High Unemployment Rate
With no electricity, according to the Popular Committee, 80% of factories have shut down either partially or completely. 300,000 unemployed workers and thousands of jobless graduates make Gaza’s economy even worse. The unemployment rate reached 30.8% during the year 2018. The highest unemployment rate was among young people in the 15-24 age group for both sexes, reaching 46.7%.
Despite the unstable political situation in Gaza, people are hoping to separate the electricity issue from the political situation due to the sensitivity of this case. If a world wild cooperation doesn’t occur, these problems with hundreds more will keep leading many lives to the death.