This is what Gaza sounds like when the electricity goes off. Depending on what neighborhood you live in, you will either lose your power in the morning or at night in rotating 8 hour blocks (at 10 am, 2pm and 10pm). The generators have become a fixture of Gaza’s streets now, and power everything from a single computer to an entire 15 story building, depending on their size and horsepower. The countdown to “powering off” is absolutely depressing. Residents now schedule their days around the electricity-opting to visit relatives or friends who are on the “opposite” schedule when their power is off, for example, or working in cafes with large generators instead of their own offices of homes. There have been over 100 generator-related deaths reported according to the UN (carbon monoxide poisoning, accidental fueling explosions, and so on) in addition to an increase in resipiratory illnesses. Blogger Ibrahim Jabour joked on Twitter the other day “can I add to my CV under ‘special skills’ that I am an expert in generator repair and fueling?”
Gaza suffers from a dire energy crisis (there is a 60% energy deficit, according to a recent report by OXFAM). The root of Gaza’s power crisis stretches back to June 2006 when Israeli airstrikes destroyed all six Gaza Power Plant (GPP) transformers (the power plant resumed operations five months later but at reduced capacity) as retribution for the capture of Gilad Shalit. After Hamas consolidated its power on the Strip in 2007 following the failed Fateh coup, Israel blockaded the territory and began to restrict fuel imports and equipment to Gaza resulting in a a chronic shortfall in the power plant’s production and a mass-dependence on back-up diesel powered generators. Besides earlier attacks, Cast Lead severely damaged the power plant, putting it on the verge of collapse, exacerbated by the destruction of power lines supplying electricity from Israel and Egypt.
For more, see GISHA’s “Electricity Shortage in Gaza: Who Turned Out the Lights?”
Also see Dissident Voice’s “Gaza’s Electricity Crisis“.
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