Gaza electricity crisis leaves more people without water than in aftermath of war
The impact of the Gaza electricity crisis on people’s access to water and power is worse than it was in the aftermath of the 50-day war that ended three years ago this week, Oxfam said today.
In August 2014 when the war ended 900,000 people in Gaza lacked proper water and sanitation facilitates, today that number is 2 million people.
The current crisis was caused by Israel’s decision to cut electricity supplies to Gaza by 40 per cent, at the request of the Palestinian National Authority. This has seen supplies drop to as little as two hours per day.
Chris Eijkemans, Oxfam’s Country Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel said the four month crisis must end now and relieve an already trapped population, now seriously threatened by risk of widespread disease, with few functioning services.
Eijkemans said: “After the 2014 Gaza War, 50 per cent of the sewage treatment centres were no longer operating. Today, none are working. After the last war, 80 per cent of the population received four hours of electricity per day. Today many people in Gaza are living on as little as two hours per day,”.
Since 2006, when Gaza’s sole power plant was bombed by Israel, its electricity supply has been unacceptably low, with households and businesses receiving as little as eight hours a day - a situation also exacerbated by the land, sea and air blockade now in its 11th year.
All Oxfam’s water and sanitation, agriculture and economic development projects in Gaza have been affected by the current crisis.
Desalinisation plant rehabilitation projects have ground to a halt, fishermen cannot store their catch and farmers cannot irrigate their crops. The economic, development and humanitarian costs are staggering.
Eijkemans added: “Even without rockets and bombs, Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing a humanitarian emergency which is all too familiar to them. It is shameful this crisis has been allowed to escalate to this extent and further two million people living under an illegal blockade.”
The Gaza electricity crisis is an illegal, punitive, measure against an entire population and must end immediately, Oxfam said. The Palestinian Authority, the de-facto authorities in Gaza, and Israel all share responsibility for the well being of Palestinians living in Gaza and must not use them as a bargaining chip in this political dispute. All must act to urgently resume fuel and electricity supply to Gaza.
Mr Eijkemans added: “Palestinians in Gaza are already enduring huge hardship, they should not be forced to suffer further or used as a bargaining chip of Palestinian political parties.”