Socialist Worker

Israel’s power cuts push the Gaza Strip deeper into crisis

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2560

Candles on a protest for Gaza in London in 2008

Candles on a protest for Gaza in London in 2008 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Gaza is a city ready to burst. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are suffering after Israel drastically cut their power supply last week.

Gazans were already living with an average of just four hours electricity per day after their only power plant ran out of fuel in mid-April.

That same plant has been bombed twice by Israel since 2006. Now, thanks to Israel’s crippling blockade, it has stopped producing power altogether.

The Red Cross said the power shortage meant the strip was on the brink of a “systemic collapse”.

So Israel cut the power even more, reducing the amount it sends to Gaza by 60 percent last week.

Dr Mona el-Farra, a physician in Gaza, described how the power shortage has pushed everything—from everyday life to vital infrastructure—to the verge of collapse.

She told Socialist Worker, “The situation is very bad, and it has worsened. It’s inhuman and it affects every aspect of life.

“There’s not enough power to make the sewage and water-treatment systems function well. The outcome is the water has been affected in vast areas of the Gaza Strip. People don’t have enough water in the crowded areas and the refugee camps.”

In a hot and overcrowded city, visiting the beach used to be one of the only respites.

Sewage

But with the sewage system barely functioning, some 100 million litres of raw, untreated waste is pumped into Gaza’s coast on a daily basis.

Mona says she has seen outbreaks of infections as a result. But hospitals and clinics, which now rely heavily on solar panels and backup generators, are struggling.

“Many machines need power. Heart machines, ventilation machines, incubators. If one is disconnected from the power for just two seconds, it affects the oxygen, it affects the baby’s life.

“Medication is another issue. They don’t have enough medication in the hospitals. Basic medications such as antibiotics. We don’t have enough medication for cancer patients either.”

On top of it all, ordinary Palestinians have to live without enough electricity to keep their refrigerators running or even light their homes at night.

Many now use their own backup generators and battery packs. But this is just another expense in a city where at least 65 percent of people live in poverty.

Now tension is mounting, and the blame lies squarely at Israel’s feet.

“The siege and the occupation affects everything. It’s a humanitarian disaster built on a political situation,” said Mona.

“The psychological wellbeing of people has become very unstable. People are going out into the streets frustrated, quarrellsome, not happy.”

But people are also still determined to keep holding out against the siege.

“I don’t want you to think we are a defeated people,” Mona added. “People are strong in Gaza.”


Palestinians are pawns in region’s power games

The power crisis has forced resistance group Hamas, which governs in Gaza, into the arms of Egypt.

Hamas and Egypt agreed a deal last week. Egypt, which controls Gaza’s southern border crossing, will sell Hamas fuel. Trucks carrying fuel rolled into Gaza last Wednesday.

In return, Hamas has agreed to step up its “security coordination” at its border with Egypt.

Significantly, it has also agreed to give former Fatah party member and enemy Mohammed Dahlan an important role in Gaza.

Dahlan was in charge of Fatah’s attempt to overthrow Hamas in 2006. He was banished from the West Bank after this failed.Now he’s taking charge of negotiating with Israel and Egypt on Gaza’s behalf.

It’s a sign that, after ten years of siege and war, Hamas is now weaker.

Egypt is helping to enforce a blockade on Gulf state Qatar because of its relationship with groups such as Hamas which are backed by Iran. It is trying to draw Hamas away from Iran and towards itself.

Egypt is also trying to set Dahlan up as a challenger to Palestianian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

This could put them at odds with the US, which backs Abbas and treats Hamas as terrorists.

Whatever happens will be bad for Palestinians.

They came closest to freedom during the Egyptian revolution, which forced Egypt to temporarily lift the siege.

Only a new uprising from below can end the tragedy in Gaza.


West Bank PA behind power cut

Israel is responsible for the suffering of every Palestinian it has imprisoned and bombed in Gaza. But it’s aided by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israel cut Gaza’s power supply after PA president Mahmoud Abbas asked it to.

Abbas, leader of the Fatah party, is trying to force resistance group Hamas to give up its control of Gaza.

Fatah was forced out of Gaza after failing to overthrow Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006.

But Hamas was left isolated in Gaza while Fatah ran the PA in the West Bank. The PA has cooperated with the occupation ever since Fatah leaders made a deal with the US and Israel in 1993.

For the promise of a Palestinian state, they had to accept Israeli domination. They gave up any claim to the land stolen when Israel was set up in 1948. They agreed to clamp down on any resistance.

Recently US president Donald Trump has tried to renew this sham “peace process,” hinting at talks if the PA agrees to more concessions.

But time and again Israel has shown it will never accept a Palestinian state. It has used the process to keep a lid on resistance while stealing even more land.

Only last week Israel began work on a new settlement town right in the middle of the West Bank.


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