This week: No cake in Gaza
November 8-14, 2013. Gaza bakeries to stop making cakes due to power shortage • Quality of sewage treatment deteriorates • The price of a ton of cement increases from 380 NIS to 1,300 NIS.
Power plant :
Gaza's power plant ceased operating on November 1, and power outages still last up to 16 hours per day. So far, there have been no reports of an agreement between the government in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority on the supply of industrial diesel for the plant. Gaza currently gets all of its electricity from Israel and Egypt - the electricity deficit remains at about 60%.
There are 14 government hospitals and 54 medical clinics in the Gaza Strip. The hospitals use large generators for all wards, and small generators for departments that require constant electricity (such as the ICU, dialysis treatment, cardiac units and neonatal ICU). In order to save diesel, wards that do not require a constant supply of electricity remain cut off during power outages.
Generators are designed to work for about eight hours. Running them for longer periods of time may reduce their capacity, causing a drop in electricity supply. This affects medical equipment such as dialysis machines, CT scanners, neonatal unit equipment and refrigerators used for storing drugs. Continuous use of generators also affects their operation, causing more malfunctions and increased maintenance costs.
The Gaza Ministry of Health estimates that prior to the closing of the power plant hospitals and clinics used about 240,000 liters of diesel per month. With the station out of commission, the ministry estimates that the demand for diesel has reached 500,000 liters per month.
Tunnel activity remains almost completely paralyzed, with only minimal amounts of construction materials coming through. A limited quantity of diesel that entered via tunnels was transferred to government institutions, universities, hospitals and residential buildings. The government in Gaza supplies Egyptian diesel to bakeries to prevent them from having to raise the price of bread. However, bakery owners try to adjust their hours of operation to the electricity supply schedule. As a result, and in order to maintain the same production level, bakeries in Gaza have stopped making cakes, and currently produce only bread.
The price of Egyptian diesel has risen by 25% over the last three months and now costs 4 NIS per liter. However, Egyptian diesel still remains cheaper than Israeli diesel which costs 6.2 NIS per liter. Palestinian sources estimate that Gaza's diesel reserves have been exhausted, and that the shortage has led to an increase in the amount of fuel entering from Israel via Kerem Shalom Crossing.