Palestinians walk on a road during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Sunday for lack of funds, leaving the Strip’s 2 million residents with only four hours of electricity per day if a solution is not found to solve the crisis, according to the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.
It’s a move that only further deepens the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Reduction in electricity compromises the operation of the desalinization plants that provide clean drinking water and make it difficult for hospitals to provide life-saving medical services.
The Gaza power plant cannot afford to pay the heavy tax the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has imposed on the fuel.
A similar crisis in December was resolved by tax-free donations from Qatar and Turkey that ran out last week. The PA is no longer willing to waive the fuel. A Gaza Electricity Distribution Company spokesman said its costs NIS 2 million daily to run the plant at half capacity and NIS 4 million daily at full capacity.
Maher Al-Tabbaa of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce said that half that sum goes to pay taxes.
The taxes and the salaries issued has increased the acrimony between Fatah and Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since it ousted Fatah in a bloody coup in 2007.
A Fatah-led delegation is expected to travel to Gaza later this month to discuss reunification efforts.
Al-Tabbaa said that factories will be forced to shut down, because the owners can not afford to run generators as an alternative to electricity.
“The continuing stoppage of the Gaza power plant for 20 hours a day foreshadows a real catastrophe that might affect the basic food security of the people as well as the health and education sectors,” Al-Tabbah said.
“The insufficient supply of electricity and fuel to operate water pumps and wells has caused a further reduction in the availability of running water in most households,” he added.
Demand for power in Gaza is about 450 to 500 megawatts of power per day, but it often gets less than half of that. About 27 MW are imported from Egypt and 125 MW from Israel.
The plant can generate 110 MW when operating at full capacity. Israel runs 10 electrical lines and coordinates the amount of fuel entering Gaza based largely on the amount requested by the Palestinian Authority.