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Al Mezan warns of looming unprecedented humanitarian crisis as Israel continues to ban fuel into Gaza

Humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip are deteriorating dramatically due to the ongoing Israeli military escalation against Gaza since Friday, 5 August 2022, targeting civilians and civilian objects, especially infrastructure facilities, including water and electricity distribution networks.

The 6-day complete closure of Erez and Karem Abu Salem, Gaza’s crossings, further exacerbated the already fragile conditions in the Strip. The ban on fuel entry continues, and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) announced on Saturday, 6 August 2022, that Gaza's only power plant would run out of fuel and be completely shut down at 12 p.m. the same day.

According to GEDCO, Gaza’s need for electricity supply is 600 megawatts. Gaza’s power plant provides the Strip with 60 megawatts, while another 120 megawatts come from Israel. As a result, there is a power deficit of 480 megawatts, which is about 80 percent of Gaza's total needs. With the shutdown of the power plant, Gaza’s total power supply will drop to less than 120 megawatts, considering the repeated interruptions of power lines and damage to networks because of Israeli attacks.

As a result, given the ongoing Israeli military attacks on Gaza’s residential areas, damage to power distribution networks to homes, health, and public facilities, and the ongoing ban on the entry of fuel, the hours of electricity supply will drop to less than four hours of supply followed by 16 hours of cut. This situation portends further deterioration of humanitarian conditions and threatens to block and disrupt basic services in the Gaza Strip, particularly water, sanitation, and medical services. Within this context, Gaza residents endure significant suffering due to summer high temperature and their inability to leave their homes under continuous military attacks.

The power outages pose a serious threat to the work of vital hospital units, particularly emergency, intensive care, surgery, as well as dialysis departments, laboratories, incubators and the medical gas system. They will also disrupt the operation of desalination and wastewater treatment plants and the water supply to homes, causing a major health and humanitarian catastrophe.

The electricity crisis also affects the work of municipalities, as the distribution of water to households is disrupted and it becomes difficult to deliver water with the timing of electricity, thus depriving people of the opportunity to fill water tanks, especially in multi-story buildings. Some municipalities are also unable to operate sewage treatment plants due to the lack of alternative energy, so they resort to pumping untreated sewage into the sea, causing sea pollution on the Palestinian coastline, which stretches about 40 km.

Al Mezan strongly condemns the latest Israeli military offensive carried out against the Gaza Strip and is deeply concerned about the total closure of Gaza crossings enforced by Israeli authorities, including the ban on the entry of fuel. All these measures carried out by Israel are part of its collective punishment against more than two million Palestinians in Gaza and blatantly violate international humanitarian law.

Al Mezan calls on the international community, the United Nations and its agencies to take immediate action to ensure food and fuel access to the Gaza Strip to avert the looming humanitarian disaster. Al Mezan reiterates its call on the international community to pressure Israel to stop its continuous violations against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, lift the closure and blockade, and protect Palestinian civilians and their property by respecting international humanitarian and human rights law.