Egyptian power supply lines to Gaza to resume operations after being shut down for two months

A family’s home in Gaza. Photo by Gisha

September 7, 2017. On August 31, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) announced that two of the three power supply lines from Egypt were back up and running. On September 5, GEDCO announced that the third line had been repaired as well. Together, these lines supply the Gaza Strip with 23 megawatts of electricity.

The lines were out of commission for more than two months, which exacerbated Gaza’s electricity crisis after Israel reduced the amount of electricity it sells and provides Gaza, from 120 megawatts to 70 megawatts. The reduction was introduced in June, following a request from the Palestinian Authority.

Today, all three lines from Egypt are out of commission again, and electricity supply to the Strip is only available for four consecutive hours followed by at least twelve hours of outages. The lines are due to resume operating by tomorrow.

According to GEDCO Spokesperson Mohammad Thabet, once the Egyptian lines are back up, the company will transition to a supply schedule in cycles of six hours of electricity, followed by twelve hours of outages. This is an improvement on what Gaza’s two million residents have had to live with ever since Israel reduced its supply – no more than four consecutive hours of power supply followed by at least twelve hours without.

Since August 26, Gaza’s sole power plant has operated three of its turbines, producing 67 megawatts, after several weeks in which the plant was only able to operate one or two turbines, depending on the supply of diesel from Egypt. Together with the power purchased from Egypt and Israel, the amount of electricity that will be available to residents of Gaza once the Egyptian lines resume operating is approximately 160 megawatts. This is about 75 percent of the amount that was available until mid-April, and only a third of actual demand.

Though the resumption of power supply from Egypt is an encouraging development, Gaza’s electricity supply is still far from sufficient. As a first, imperative step, a way must be found to immediately restore the supply from Israel to what it was prior to the reduction.  All parties responsible – the de-facto authorities in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, the international community, Egypt, and, above all, Israel, must stop waging their political battles at the expense of Gaza’s residents and find solutions to develop an advanced electrical grid and consistent, 24-hour power supply in the Strip.