The electricity crisis aggravates day by day in disregard of civilians’ suffering resulted from the serious power shortage and without any hope to improve the electricity services necessary for the life of the Gaza population. In contrast, the two parties to the political split exchanged accusations on media and threw responsibility to each other for the deterioration in the Gaza power supply, disregarding the suffering of 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and not taking in consideration the death of 130 persons due to searching for electricity alternative sources.
According to the follow-up by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the Gaza Strip population only receives power for four hours daily while residents of many neighborhoods and areas in the Gaza Strip complained that they receive only 4 hours of electricity within 48 hours.
On 07 January 2017, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) declared that the power shortage increased after the second generator in the power plant went off.
According to GEDCO’s press statement, the shortage reached 438 megawatts (73%), and the Gaza Strip needs 600 megawatts, so only 147 megawatts are available (27%). GEDCO emphasized that its role is limited to receiving and distributing the available megawatts. Moreover, there is no schedule for the distribution process, pointing out that the role of providing the megawatts refers to the government.
It has become clear that the parties administrating the Gaza electricity sector do not have real solutions to at least reduce the power outage. This reveals their failure to administrate this sector that is very vital and important for around 2 million Palestinians, who have bear a financial cost up to 3 times what they used to pay before the political split and received only a quarter of the needed electricity.
Gaza population’s main concern has become to search for alternative energy sources, inflicting a lot of victims due to the use of generators or candles to make up the shortfall in electricity supply. Due to the aggravating electricity crisis, more than half million students in all education levels in Gaza were affected, and their suffering increased along with the final exams.
Moreover, people who live in multi-storey buildings suffer due to restricting their movement in addition to the conflict between the programs supplying water for areas and the limited electricity supply periods. Furthermore, patients, elderlies, and persons with disabilities are not able to move in order to reach their health services right on time. The electricity crisis also hindered work in the industrial facilities that mainly depend on electricity. The commercial facilities also reduced its working hours, increasing the economic deterioration suffered by the Gaza population for 10 years.
PCHR presented an initiative in the closing conference of “Lighting Gaza” campaign, which was organized over 6 months last year. During the campaign, PCHR stressed that the electricity crisis is political par excellence and called upon the parties administrating the electricity sector to find strategic solutions in order to return the electricity services to all the residents of the Gaza Strip 24 hours a day on the basis of civilian’s right to enjoy the basic services, including electricity’s, in order to alleviate the suffering resulting from the almost-complete power cut-off.
PCHR stressed that the electricity crisis is political par excellence due to the absence of the Palestinian reconciliation and internal political bickering despite the presence of the National Unity Government; PCHR called upon the parties administrating the electricity sector, not to involve civilians in the political spilt and sacrifice their rights in favor of political interests of any party.
In addition, PCHR called on the Palestinian Unity Government, the Energy Authority in Gaza and GEDCO to be fully responsible for the aggravating electricity crisis, saying that civilians, who pay their monthly bills, should not bear the failure of parties responsible for the current crisis; therefore, these parties should provide them with the electricity services in all conditions.
PCHR also called upon the Energy Authority in Gaza to hand over its powers in the electricity sector administration to the Palestinian Unity Government in order to facilitate the administration of the sector for achieving the best interests for civilians; and the Unity Government to take main responsibility for the electricity sector administration in Gaza, including taking all the administrative and financial procedures that would guarantee a fair and transparent administration of the sector and improve the electricity supplies for the residents under these harsh conditions; and calls for establishing an independent and national committee comprised of professional figures experienced in the field of electricity and representatives of the political factions, private sectors, human rights organizations and civil society participating as observers. The committee will supervise the new administration of the electricity sector in the Gaza Strip and provide technical and logistical support if asked.