Egyptian power lines to Gaza shut down since Friday

Electricity shortage in Gaza

Sitting in darkness in Gaza. Photo by Gisha.

October 26, 2017. Power supply lines from Egypt to Gaza have been shut down since Friday due to security incidents in the Sinai Peninsula, leading to a further reduction in Gaza’s already severely limited supply of electricity.

Though the world turned its attention elsewhere, Gaza residents still receive no more than four consecutive hours of power supply followed by twelve hours of outages. The electricity shortage continues to severely disrupt normal life, placing lives at risk. The Egyptian power lines had only just resumed operations during September, after a two-month shutdown.

Ever since June, only 70 megawatts of electricity supply is sold and provided to Gaza by Israel, in place of the 120 megawatts supplied previously. The reduction was implemented in response to the Palestinian Authority’s request. Despite reports on the advancement of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, this decision has not yet been rescinded.

Gaza’s sole power station runs on fuel currently supplied from Egypt, and provides an additional 50 to 55 megawatts. The total volume of electricity currently available in Gaza is only 125 megawatts, which is 59 percent of the electricity that was available before Israel reduced supply, and about 31 percent of actual demand.

The Gaza Strip has been teetering on the edge of a humanitarian crisis for months, with its dilapidated infrastructure near collapse and only limited health services on offer. Winter will make matters worse, as the risk of flooding increases and temperatures drop. As an immediate response, the volume of electricity sold and supplied to the Strip by Israel must be restored to what it was before the reduction, and power supply lines from Egypt must also be repaired. All parties who bear responsibility for the situation in the Gaza Strip – Israel, de facto Hamas authorities, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and the international community – must stop engaging in power struggles at the expense of Gaza’s residents and begin promoting viable solutions for the development of a reliable grid that provides power 24 hours a day. This is a basic prerequisite for reconstruction, development, decent living conditions, and prosperity.