For years, residents of the occupied Palestinian territory in Gaza have experienced electrical blackouts and shortages. Since June, the situation has escalated to a point where Palestinians are living in a virtual blackout. In an attempt to pressure Hamas to yield its power in the Gaza Strip, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, requested that Israel reduce the electrical supply by 40% to the already deprived Gaza citizens.
“We have electricity for one hour a day,” Mohammed Qreaiqe tells the Progressive Army. The young artist and Gaza resident, who is often called “Picasso of the Middle East,” is no longer able to pursue his dreams. “I am completely off drawing because of the lack of electricity.”
The crisis is further exacerbated as “there is no water,” explains Qreaiqe. Water supply relies on “electricity to operate the water pump and fill the tank.” This doesn’t only limit the access of residents to drinking water. Water is essential for sanitation and hygiene.
Water supplied by the municipality is very salty and contaminated, explains Palestinian journalist Omar Gharieb who reported on the deteriorating situation in Gaza. However, that remains the only option for many households, especially those who live in the Southern region of the Gaza Strip. Other households have access to privately owned wells. But still, without access to electricity, residents will not be able to fill their water tanks. This forces most people to “either buy drinking water from supermarkets or get it from mobile water trucks,” explains Gharieb.
Appeal for Relief
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) condemned the recent cuts that led to a crisis in the region and appealed for funding to stabilize Gaza’s deteriorating humanitarian condition. The UNOHCA issued a statement on July 3rd that stated, in part: “In a document presented to diplomats . . . in Jerusalem, agencies identified top-priority, life-saving interventions in health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and food security sectors.” The organization adds that funding is needed to “mitigate the effects of deep power cuts and lack of fuel for generators for hospitals, water treatment plants, sewerage pumps and other key facilities.”
However, an end to the situations doesn’t appear to be in sight. The international community has largely remained silent. And on Sunday, the Israeli security cabinet approved reducing power supply further, in a move that will only make matters worse for the already critical humanitarian crisis in Gaza.