Gaza electricity crisis
The Gaza electricity crisis is an ongoing and growing electricity crisis faced by nearly two million citizens of the Gaza Strip, with regular power supply being provided only for a few hours a day on a rolling blackout schedule. Some Gazans use private electric generators, solar panels and uninterruptible power supply units to produce power when regular power is not available. The crisis is a result of the tensions between Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, and the Palestinian Authority/Fatah, which rules the West Bank over custom tax revenue, funding of Gaza, and political authority.
As of 2017, Gaza's normal energy needs are estimated to be approximately 400–600 megawatts for full 24-hour supply to all residents, which are normally supplied by a diesel power plant in Gaza which has a nominal rating of 60–140 MW (figures vary due to degree of operation and damage to the plant) which is reliant on fuel imports, an additional 125 MW imported from Israel via 10 power lines, and 27 MW of power imported from Egypt. Even in normal conditions, the current rated supply of Gaza is inadequate to meet growing needs, and the crisis has led to further closure and reductions to each of these power sources.
Prior to June 2013, fuel for the power plant was smuggled from Egypt, where fuel at the time was highly subsidized. Following measures taken by the Egyptians against the Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels, these cheap imports were halted and the power plant began operating in a partial capacity with fuel supplied via Israel, which charges a high[clarification needed] import duty. Even though Gaza is ruled by Hamas, they are currently dependent on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help provide electricity – the import duties on Gaza's fuel purchases via Israel are passed to the PA, making Hamas reliant on the PA for funding, and the PA, not Hamas, pays the bill to Israel and Egypt for the electricity they provide to Gaza. As of 2017, the Palestine Authority has ceased making some of the payments.
Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has documented how common people cope in Gaza with electricity being provided on a rolling blackout schedule of a few hours a day, and has further said that Israel should take responsibility for the crisis, a responsibility Israel denies, saying that Hamas should allocate funds for electricity rather than personal gain and military expenditure on equipment and military tunnels.
In April 2017, Gaza's sole power plant ran out of fuel. Hamas blamed the Palestinian Authority for levying taxes on the fuel (levied by Israel as per Protocol on Economic Relations, and passed to the PA) while not passing tax revenue back to Gaza. The PA claims that the Hamas officials in Gaza are simply incapable of running the plant efficiently.
From April 2017, power supply from Egypt is reportedly not operational. According to Asharq Al-Awsat Egypt offered, in June 2017, to supply Gaza with electricity in exchange for the extradition of 17 wanted terrorists and other security demands.
Following the PA's refusal to pay for electricity in Gaza and instructions to reduce supply, Israel further reduced supply to Gaza in May and June 2017, saying this was an internal Palestinian matter. The Israeli military and the UN have warned that the electricity crisis and resulting humanitarian crisis may lead Gaza to initiate military hostilities. Hamas has labelled Israel's decision as "dangerous and catastrophic", threatening to renew violence.
On the 20th of June 2017, reports emerged that Egypt and Hamas reached an understanding according to which Egypt would supply 500 tons of diesel fuel daily. This supply wouldn't face Israeli custom duty rates (passed to the PA), as stipulated by the Paris Protocol, potentially placing Gaza in a separate economic bloc from Israel and the PA.
In the summer of 2017, sewage was directed untreated to the sea due to the lack of electricity, severely polluting Gaza's beaches. As a result the number of beach goers plummeted. The Israeli beach of Zikim was closed as well due to the sewage pollution from Gaza. Gazan sewage was also pumped into Israel via Nahal Hanoun from Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia polluting the Israeli coastal groundwater aquifer.
In August 2017, the United Nations human rights office called Israel, the State of Palestinian and Hamas authorities to resolve the conflict, saying ""We are deeply concerned about the steady deterioration in the humanitarian conditions and the protection of human rights in Gaza", and that the supply of electricity for less than four a hours a day since April "has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services".
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