Palestinians in several cities of Gaza protested on Monday night over long-standing power outages in the Gaza strip.
Demonstrators swarmed the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip addressing Hamas deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying, "We want electricity just like everybody else."
Some demonstrators broke shop windows and called for justice to be served to officials working in electricity production and distribution companies for the failure to supply power.
Angry throngs set fire to tyres causing traffic jams in streets around Suheda Square of Rafah city in southern Gaza. They requested the end to power cuts which simultaneously increased with high seasonal temperatures during the summer.
Some demonstrators protested in front of the energy institution in the Bureij camp located in the central Gaza Strip which is home to 31,000 refugees.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and The Palestinian People's Party (PPP) called for the protests to remain peaceful to end the power cuts.
Israeli authorities decided last Friday to close Karm Abu Salem; the commercial crossing in south-east Gaza for five days because of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish new year holiday. Subsequently, the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) announced that the fuel fired power plant which works with imported fuel through the Karm Abu Salem crossing would not be able to work for five days.
- Current electricity conditions of Gaza
Electricity demand in the Gaza Strip is estimated at 400 megawatts (MW), of which less than 220 MW is currently met under Israel's strict blockade. Out of the 152 MW of electricity supplied, Israel supplies 120 MW, Egypt gives 32 MW while the remaining power is produced by the fuel fired power plant in Gaza.
An Israeli airstrike in June 2006 targeting the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) marked the start of an electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, which is still ongoing. Rolling blackouts of 12-16 hours per day are seen across Gaza with heavily populated areas being most impacted, said UNISPAL, United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine.
Nearly 70 percent of households do not pay their electricity bills due to their inability to afford them or due to lack of enforcement. Humanitarian agencies and donors have spent over US$11 million since November 2013 in emergency fuel support to critical service providers, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data shows.
According to the Global WASH Cluster (GWC), a humanitarian sector group working on water, sanitation and hygiene; more than 70 percent of households in Gaza are being supplied with piped water for 6-8 hours only once every two to four days, due to insufficient power supply. Up to 90 million liters of partly treated sewage are being discharged into the Mediterranean Sea every day, partially due to electricity and fuel shortages.
World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that the waiting time for some types of elective surgery at Gaza’s largest hospital - Shifa has been extended by up to 18 months.
Since 2007, Israel, with the cooperation of Egypt, has imposed a strict blockade on the Gaza Strip, depriving the enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of their most basic needs.
The ongoing blockade, which shows no sign of letting up in the short term, has also largely destroyed the Gazan economy.
In May, the World Bank said that the Gaza Strip's economy was among the worst in the world, with overall unemployment standing at 43 percent and youth unemployment at a whopping 70 percent.
Reporting by Gulsen Topcu
Writing by Muhsin Baris Tiryakioglu