When you don't have enough electricity

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Supply vs. demand in Gaza

Gaza suffers from a severe electricity shortage, due to the Israeli occupation. This shortage affects all aspects of life.

Households in Gaza receive electricity 3 – 8 hours per day.1

Since 2006, the Gaza Power Plant has operated at only half capacity.

In March 2018, it operated at less than one quarter capacity.

Reasons for shortage of electricity

Lack of diesel fuel

  • Israel, the only supplier, charges a much higher price than Gaza, impoverished by the blockade, can afford
  • Recent internal disputes between Palestinian groups prevent or delay payment​

Israel prevents repairs

  • Israel bombed the Gaza Power Plant in 2006 and 20142
  • Israel restricts the import of repair materials that could be “dual use,” i.e., that could possibly be used for military purposes3

Backup generators not viable

  • They suffer the same shortage of fuel and restrictions on spare parts
  • They are also unsafe, environmentally polluting and unaffordable for the poor 4

The impact of insufficient electricity 

On health and medical needs

  • Fluctuations in power supply cause malfunctioning of sensitive medical equipment (ultrasound, X-ray, laboratory machines, cardiac monitors, sterilizing machines, infants’ incubators)
  • Cleaning and sterilizing of medical facilities is reduced
  • Elective surgery is postponed to prioritize emergency surgery, causing wait times of up to 18 months
  • Patients are discharged prematurely

On water

  • Desalination plants function at 15 percent capacity 5
  • Water pumps and wells are unable to operate sufficiently, resulting in: 
    • A reduction in running water to households
    • Most families only receive piped water 6 – 8 hours every 4 days, and must store it in tanks until the water turns on again 6
    • A reliance on private, unregulated water
    • A decline in hygiene standards

On sewage

  • Over 108 million liters (28.5 gallons) of almost totally untreated sewage are discharged into the sea each day 7
  • There is a constant risk of sewage backflow into the streets
  • This causes an increased risk of water-borne diseases

On daily life 

  • Washing machines, refrigerators, electric water heaters and other appliances can’t be used normally 8
  • Businesses relying on technology cannot meet deadlines, leading to layoffs and unemployment
  • Children have difficulty reading and doing their homework, hindering their education 9
  • Families are stressed, with women bearing a disproportionate load, because they are expected to manage household needs 10

Electricity in the West Bank

Power shortages are not as severe in the West Bank as in Gaza, but they do exist. The West Bank village of Jubbet ad Dhib has been asking for hook-up to the power grid since the 1980s, with no success, even though nearby Jewish-only settlements have electricity. When the community put up solar panels, with funding from the Netherlands, Israel raided the village and seized all 96 solar panels and related equipment, because of the lack of a permit. The panels were eventually returned – some damaged – after complaints from the Netherlands and a legal appeal by the community and the implementing NGO.11

 

References

  1. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “Gaza Strip electricity supply.” 
  2. UNSCO, United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory, “Gaza Ten Years Later,” July 2017, p. 18.
  3. B’Tselem, “Israel cannot shirk its responsibility for Gaza’s electricity crisis,” 16 January 2017.
  4. OCHA, “The Humanitarian Impact of Gaza’s Electricity and Fuel Crisis”, July 2015.  
  5. OCHA, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Internal Palestinian Divide on the Gaza Strip”, June 2017. 
  6. OCHA, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Internal Palestinian Divide on the Gaza Strip”, June 2017. 
  7. OCHA, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Internal Palestinian Divide on the Gaza Strip”, June 2017. 
  8. OCHA, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Internal Palestinian Divide on the Gaza Strip”, June 2017. 
  9. Oxfam International, “Electricity crisis brings dark times for women in Gaza,” 2018.
  10. Oxfam International, “Electricity crisis brings dark times for women in Gaza,” 2018.
  11. OCHA, “Demolition and seizure of service infrastructure in Palestinian communities in Area C exacerbates risk of forcible transfer,” 11 October 2017. 

This story is part of A Cry for Home, which offers stories, videos and fact sheets from MCC on Palestine and Israel. Learn more about A Cry for Home. 

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