"Classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources."
Gaza’s power system is at risk of collapse. In 2006, the Israeli military bombed Gaza’s only power plant, destroying its six transformers. Under the blockade, the power plant can’t import parts to replace damaged components. Temporary fixes have allowed the plant to function at a minimal level, but those solutions were never made to last.
Other factors have exacerbated the power crisis, including a halt in smuggled fuel from Egypt in 2013, the destruction of fuel storage tanks and other structures at the plant by Israeli airstrikes in 2014, and the destruction of infrastructure and distribution networks throughout Gaza. Since April 2017, the Gaza power plant has been offline due to limited fuel imports, further limiting electricity in Gaza.
While Gaza’s electrical grid is linked with the Israeli system, Israel limits how much power it sells to Gaza, and existing power lines can only supply a fraction of Gaza’s total needs.
Today, less than one-third of Gaza’s electricity demand is being met. Rolling blackouts leave Palestinians in Gaza with less than four hours of electricity per day—affecting the health and well-being of residents; jeopardizing critical services, such as hospitals, schools, and water sanitation; and making it impossible for businesses to function.
Ending the blockade is crucial to address the power crisis, but it will not improve the situation immediately. Even if new parts could be imported and additional infrastructure could be built, it would take up to five years for the system to reach a point where current needs could be met.
People in Gaza have no more than 4 hours of electricity per day.
Why Gaza can't count on electricity
Gaza Lights for Rafah Campaign
The electricity crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented heights, with power now reduced to 2 to 4 hours per day (see Desperate Palestinians Try to Beat Heat and Israeli Blockade Bringing Gaza to Collapse). It is causing terrible suffering for ordinary people there.
Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas. Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer heat. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.
While only an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade can provide a lasting solution, in the meantime you can help us ameliorate the suffering of poor families in Rafah.
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is once again partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide families in Rafah with a “Gaza Lights” unit — a rechargeable household system created by a team of volunteer Gaza engineers that takes advantage of the short hours of electrical service to charge a battery, which can then power lights, fans and phones for twelve hours.
These “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by MECA and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Amal and the Sketch Engineering Team assemble Gaza Lights systems
MRSCP has committed funds to buy 10 of these systems. We need to raise $3,640 to purchase & install 40 more by the end of November. Please help us reach this goal! Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Rafah 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan; $31 a rechargeable battery; $91 a complete system.
The electricity shortage impacts every family in Gaza. Please support the Gaza Lights Campaign!
It’s been 10 years of living under siege in Gaza. Three years after the most brutal Israeli assault. And things keep getting worse.
Gaza now gets only about 2 hours of electricity each day.
Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas.
Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.
Recently a team of volunteer Gaza engineers designed a rechargeable, battery-operated system that can power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours. While the only solution to this crisis is to end the Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza and restore electrical power, in the meantime you can help people in Gaza survive.
The “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Gaza 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, and $91 a complete Gaza Light system.
To make a contribution dedicated to Rafah, send a check to “MRSCP” with the note “Gaza Lights” to
P.O. Box 5214
Madison WI 53705
For over a decade, two million Palestinians in Gaza have lived under a brutal military blockade imposed by Israel.
Media stories about Gaza primarily focus on violence and politics, while stories of how the blockade impacts everyday life remain largely untold.
Join our summer engagement effort to raise awareness about the Gaza blockade.
Osama Khalili, 46
Head of the Nutrition Department,
Palestinian Ministry of Health
During a brief pause to hostilities in July 2014, families returned to eastern Gaza, which saw some of the heaviest bombings. Photo Credit: Oxfam / Flickr
Palestinians in Gaza are largely forgotten. They are an invisible people inhabiting a world without rights and possibilities. Over Israel’s near 50-year occupation, Gaza and the West Bank were reduced from a lower middle-income economy to a dysfunctional economy disproportionately dependent on foreign assistance. Gaza is under immense pressure from a continued blockade, now in its tenth year. Egyptian restrictions on the movement of people through Rafah, “which has remained largely closed… since October 2014, including for humanitarian assistance” increased internal discord and hindered intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
There are stunningly high levels of unemployment and poverty. According to the World Bank, unemployment currently stands at 43 percent and in excess of 60 percent for Gazan youth. Yet, while Gaza’s economic demise is well documented, the blockade’s societal impact is often neglected. The blockade created a series of long-term, chronic conditions in Palestinian society, including the destruction of civilian space, changes to social structure and health status, widespread trauma, a dramatic change in popular attitudes, and finally, a widening generational divide.
As United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Spokesman Chris Gunness notes: “The juxtaposition of hopelessness and despair, contrasted with the transformational potential of Gazan society, has never been so palpable.”According to the World Bank, the Israeli blockade alone—which has severed almost all of the territory’s ties to the outside world, virtually terminating Gaza’s critically needed export trade—decreased Gaza’s GDP by at least 50 percent since 2007. Egypt’s near total termination of Gaza’s tunnel trade—a vital, albeit underground economic lifeline—dealt an additional and extremely damaging blow. On top of this, the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, or Operation Protective Edge (OPE), worsened an already bleak situation by reducing Gaza’s economy by an additional $460 million.
This set in motion what one local analyst called a “dynamic of disintegration” that produced a range of unprecedented socioeconomic changes. Combined with the ruinous impact of the blockade, OPE was resulted in extensive damage to or destruction of homes, schools, health facilities, factories, businesses, sewage and water treatment infrastructure, and agriculture — effectively resulting in the destruction of civilian space. At least 100,000 people found themselves homeless, resulting in an estimated 75,000 being displaced, 11,200 being injured, at least 1,000 becoming permanently disabled, and 1,500 children becoming orphaned.
Gaza’s society was radically leveled, particularly with the virtual destruction of its middle class and the emergence of an unprecedentedly new class of “poor.” Perhaps emblematic of the damage done to society, particularly since the imposition of the blockade, is Gaza’s rising infant mortality rate (IMR). IMR not only measures the health status of children, but also of the whole population. For the first time in more than 50 years, the IMR in Gaza increased from 20.2 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 22.4 in 2013. Neonatal mortality rates, or the number of children who die within four weeks of birth, experienced a dramatic increase from 12.0 in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013, an uptick of nearly 70 percent. In Gaza, there is also a documented rise in domestic violence and child labor, as well as considerable anecdotal evidence for an increase in prostitution. No doubt the blockade, coupled with the last three wars in Gaza, is a contributing factor.
According to local health officials, 80 percent of adults in Gaza suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. During OPE, all sectors of the Strip were subject to or threatened with some kind of attack. According to Yale Professor Brian Barber, “OPE was uniquely crippling because no one was free of risk, and no place was safe to find refuge. It was, in a sense, universally and inescapably terrorizing.” Every child over the age of six has seen three wars, and at least 400,000 children are in need of immediate psychological intervention, according to the UN. As a result, OPE has created a profound sense of collective dread and desperation that has less to do with the war than the inhuman conditions left unchanged since the war. People have never felt less safe and secure or more devoid of hope.
Desolation and destiny in a land in limbo
Banksy artwork on the ruins of a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Beit Hanoun (Alice Su)
Alice Su, The Atlantic, May 2, 2015
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip—Eight months after last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, Gaza remains in ruins. Drive five minutes into the territory from the crossing point in southwestern Israel and you reach Beit Hanoun, one of the areas hit most severely by land and air during the conflict. Bright blue sky spreads over buildings with big bites taken out of them. Half-eaten bedrooms and kitchens yawn open to reveal tangled wires, broken rock, and household goods: a slipper, a pack of sanitary pads, a ripped-up schoolbook. People peek over mounds of rubble from tents behind their former homes, like aliens come to settle an abandoned planet.
In Gaza City, the flags and slogans of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that governs Gaza, cover the street corners: “Resist, O Palestinian people, your perseverance is our only hope for freedom.” Driving through the city, you see murals of doves and children holding hands, UNRWA cartoons about saving water and picking up trash, and then a stick figure blowing up an Israeli tank. Across the street, someone has scrawled a Star of David on a garbage bin.
But ask what people are doing, and they say, “Sitting. Waiting.” Hamas’s rhetoric is all about resistance, but most people I met in Gaza were not so much defiant as desolate, not so much resisting as resigned. Those who survived last summer’s war are trapped in 360 square kilometers of trauma and contradiction, choking on war and blockade, disillusioned with the Palestinian leadership and disempowered by the aid community. They sit without jobs, relief, or means of rebuilding, waiting for things to change.
Its legal status is contested, its land is divided and thousands of its citizens emigrate every year – so how does Palestine’s economy function?
A Palestinian labourer works at a construction site of a residential project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Photograph: Said Khatib/Getty Images
Mona Chalabi, The Guardian, 14 October 2013
These days, the economic health of any country relies on that of others – but the Palestinian Territories are exceptionally dependent on factors outside of them. On what do Palestinian economic fortunes rely on and how does the future look?
Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories, the barrier it has constructed along and within the West Bank as well as its land, air and sea blockades in the Gaza strip have placed severe limitations on the success of Palestinian economic policies.
A complex web of checkpoints and roadblocks make it difficult for Palestinians to travel within the Palestinian Territories for jobs, to bank or to trade. Farmers whose land is now behind the barrier are required to apply for ‘visitor permits’ which Israel regularly rejects – in Akkaba it approved 49% of applications in 2011, and just 20% by 2012. More recently, a report from the World Bank found that Israeli restrictions in the West Bank alone cost the Palestinian economy $3.4bn (£2.1bn) a year, or 35% of its GDP.
Image: Visualizing Palestine.
Israel may have policies that hamper the Palestinian economy, but it is also a major source of Palestinian livelihoods. Unemployment is exceptionally high in the West Bank and the Gaza strip where almost 1 in 4 adults are jobless. According to the latest report from the International Labour Office, some 87,000 Palestinians aged over 15 (around 10% of all those with jobs) are employed in Israel and its settlements.
The majority of these Palestinians are employed in the construction sector, followed by manufacturing and agriculture – all of which tend to be characterised by insecurity. A survey by Palestine’s main trade union found that only 11% of workers in Israeli settlements said they had job security, over half received less than the minimum wage and 65% had been exposed to toxic substances.