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.
The Gaza power plant operates at less than one-third of its capacity and has regularly had to shut down, due to fuel shortages, caused by fuel costs and Israeli limitations on importing fuel.
Because of the limited power supply, over 70 percent of Gaza households have access to piped water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days.
Since 2010, at least 29 people—24 of them children—have died in Gaza from fires or suffocation directly linked to power outages.
Water is piped to over 70 percent of Gaza households only once every two to four days for four to six hours at a time. That’s because the insufficient power supply can’t provide uninterrupted access to water. And if homes don’t have power during those periods to operate household pumps used to fill cisterns, then they will receive no water.
Hospitals provide only limited services because they rely on generators, which produce insufficient electrical supplies that can damage sensitive medical equipment.
Schools often run without electricity, leaving students in the dark and making many educational activities impossible.
We have received an appeal for help from the Atfaluna School for the Deaf in Gaza City. Atfaluna (“Our Children” in Arabic) has for many years been one of the main sources of the beautiful Palestinian crafts, including embroidery, ceramics and wood products, that we market in order to support Palestinian livelihoods.
Atfaluna sells these items both to benefit the craftspeople and to support their school for deaf children.
Due to the continuing (and worsening) crisis in Gaza, the school is facing the possibility of having to close some classrooms. They sent MRSCP the following message:
We are writing to you today in hope that you may be able to support our most urgent school campaign which aims to secure funds for the upcoming academic year 2017/2018 for all 20 of our deaf education classrooms. Our school serves 300 deaf girls and boys from extremely fragile backgrounds and in light of the deteriorating situation in Gaza, Palestine we are struggling to maintain our services for the deaf.
We are working hard to avoid ending our educational services for the deaf children in our care and have therefore setup an online fundraising campaign. We were hoping you would kindly circulate, share, contribute to our appeal for classroom 1A which comprises of 10 deaf girls and boys. The link to our online campaign is
Please consider making a donation to this online campaign. These funds do not go through MRSCP but directly to Atfaluna. We are looking into the possibility of doing some direct fundraising for the school, and will let you know if you could therefore make a tax-deductible contribution through MRSCP, but in the meantime we wanted to circulate this appeal.
Finally, you may want to check out these articles about the current situation in Gaza:
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with concern and sorrow the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli closure imposed on the movement of persons from and to the Gaza Strip, in addition to the additional restrictions imposed at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing that denies over 95% of the Gaza Strip population from traveling to the West Bank and abroad. The closure of Rafah International Crossing Point at the Egyptian borders has been ongoing for over 3 months, inflicting more suffering over the Gaza Strip population, especially thousands of humanitarian cases whose health conditions aggravated or their business obstructed. There are over 30,000 persons waiting for the crossing to reopen, most of them are patients who have no proper treatment at Gaza hospitals; university students in Egypt and abroad; and holders of residence permits or visas in countries abroad.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Rafah International Crossing Point has been closed for 156 days since the beginning of this year, while it was open for 10 days in both directions and for 4 days for persons only returning to Gaza. During this period, around 6,209 persons were able to travel while 9,052 persons returned to Gaza. The same period last year witnessed the closure of the crossing for 173 days, while it was open for 9 days. During that period, around 6,595 persons were able to travel via the crossing, while 2,822 persons returned to the Gaza Strip. As a result of the closure, the health conditions of hundreds of patients, who had received referrals for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, deteriorated. In addition, thousands of other persons and families, including university students, holders of residence permits in countries abroad, and businessmen, experienced hardships as a result.
PCHR realizes that the current suffering endured by the Gaza Strip population goes back mainly to the illegal and inhumane Israeli closure imposed on Gaza for the 11th consecutive year, which constitutes a collective punishment against 2 million Palestinians. The Gaza Strip is a part of the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) under the international humanitarian law. Therefore, Israel as an occupying power is responsible for the main obligations towards the population of the occupied territory. Accordingly, the Israeli occupying authorities should declare ending the illegal closure immediately and allow the freedom of movement of individuals and goods, as the closure constitutes a grave violation of the international humanitarian law and amounts to a crime against humanity. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions 1949 to oblige the occupying authorities to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law and to open all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, without any restrictions like age restrictions, because Erez is the only crossing that gives importance to the geographical unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, so it would allow the Gaza Strip residents to move freely between Palestinian cities and travel abroad.
PCHR is aware of the security situation in Sinai and understands the security measures taken by Egypt to preserve its sovereignty and national security. PCHR takes in consideration the significant role played by Egypt towards the Gaza Strip population to alleviate their suffering, including opening Rafah crossing and allowing them to move and travel freely. PCHR demands Egypt to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip population and to provide the necessary facilitations for their travel and transportation to and from the Gaza Strip via Egypt, especially in view of the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.
During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.
The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.
I will meet my fate Al-Louh Family, Deir al-Balah
8 people killed
August 20, 2014
Buseina put the kettle on the stove. Every day she got up before the morning prayer to make tea. Steam was rising and the aroma of boiling mint escaped the teapot. Buseina’s husband Mustafa emerged from the bathroom and came into the kitchen. Phones barely worked, the network was down. Electricity was scarce, but the radio could run on batteries and could therefore always be relied on those days. “What’s the news?” he asked. “They hit the house of the al-Dalu family,” she answered. The strike was meant for one of the top military commanders of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, or so the Israeli army claimed. Instead, the Israeli pilot killed Deif’s wife and his seven-month-old son, along with a 48-year-old woman and her two sons. Fifteen people were injured.
Both Buseina and Mustafa held on to their usual daily habits throughout the Israeli offensive. Buseina would get up before the morning prayer to make tea, and Mustafa would join her in the kitchen soon after.
Since the beginning of the war, Mustafa al-Louh, a tall, slender 61-year-old man, had been sleeping in a small shed wedged between two houses. On one side was the house of Mustafa’s son Rafat and his family. On the other side lived Mustafa’s wife and their kids. A five day ceasefire had just finished the day before. Mustafa felt the war’s end was nearing. When the muezzin of Deir al-Balah called, he got up. He usually woke up before the call to prayer, a habit established over the decades since his youth. But after weeks of sleepless nights, stress and fear, he was just too exhausted.
Down a sandy road, in a nearby house about 50 meters away, his 19-year-old niece, Iman, also got up to pray. She too struggled with waking up on time. Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university. Iman had been considering theology. She got out of bed after the call to prayer had ended, and her sisters had already finished with fajar – the prayer at dawn. Her mother, who woke up earlier, turned on the radio. The latest news was the bombing of the al-Dalu home.
Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university.
Ahmed, Mustafa’s son from another marriage, had stayed over at Rafat’s place. They had to go to work early in the morning. At 6 am, they would have to be on their way to the market in Khan Yunis to buy watermelons and bring them back to Deir al-Balah. The entire summer, every day of the war, the half-brothers travelled on the Salah al-Din road spanning the length of the Gaza Strip. Most days, the road would be nearly deserted. It was risky to drive there. Once back in Deir al-Balah, Rafat and Ahmed would load the watermelons onto a cart and push it through the sandy streets, announcing their arrival through a loudspeaker.
Rafat was an employee of the Palestinian Authority. Like thousands of other people in the Gaza Strip employed by the Palestinian government seated in Ramallah in the West Bank, he stopped going to work in 2007, when Hamas won the parliamentary election and came to power in Gaza. They all kept their modest salaries, not enough for Rafat to feed his family, though. He had three little kids. Two boys: the eldest 10-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, 7, and a daughter Farah, 6. His wife Nabila was pregnant. Rafat was forced to take out a loan. Mustafa, their father, was worried. He asked Ahmed and Rafat not to go to Khan Yunis, but his grown-up sons, one with a family of his own, would not listen. They had never been targeted on the road. Anyways, calculating what would be more risky – staying at home or driving around – had become impossible in Gaza during that time.
Rafat, Mustafa’s son, had three little kids. Two boys, the eldest ten-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, seven years old, and a daughter named Farah, six years old. His wife Nabila was pregnant at the time of the attack. The photo of 10-year-old Mustafa is missing.
Mohammed, Rafat’s younger brother, often helped them with selling watermelons. He even saved up some money working over the summer. But the closure of the Gaza Strip left him feeling suffocated. Sometimes, it seemed he had given up. He had refused to get married. He kept saying it did not make sense, because he would die anyway. Walaa’, his twin sister, did get married. It was the first time their paths in life split. Walaa’ moved out to start a life with her husband and Mohammed stayed at home. As is the case for nearly half of Gaza’s population, most of the time he was unemployed. He passed his days walking around the neighborhood. Walaa’ often looked out the window to find her twin brother down in the street. She used to shout to him: “Come upstairs, let’s drink some coffee!” “You know I am too lazy to climb up to the third floor,” he would answer. She used to smile at this little ritual of theirs and go downstairs to sit with her brother in the backyard.
With the money he saved up selling watermelons, Mohammed had bought a new bed and wardrobe for his room. Throughout the entire war he had slept on a mattress in the corridor of their house – a strategic location, furthest away from the windows and from other houses that were possible targets. His mother Buseina and his two siblings Wafaa’ and Momen slept there too. After the ceasefire, he lost his patience and insisted on trying out his new bed. Just before going to sleep, his mother pleaded with him to stay with them in the corridor. “I will meet my fate, whatever it is. I want to die,” he said and went to his room.
THE MORNING OF THE BOMBING
Iman got up to pray a bit late. She was standing in the middle of the bedroom, while her sisters sat around her. The electricity was off and they could barely see each other. Mustafa and Buseina were talking in the kitchen about the al-Dalu family’s fate. Mohammed was enjoying his new bed, sleeping in his room. Momen and Wafaa’ were still asleep, in the corridor, further away from the street and other houses. Ahmed and Rafat were going to make their risky trip of the day in a little while, but for now they were still tired from the hard work and sleeping soundly in the early hours of the morning.
An Israeli pilot dropped a half-ton bomb.
A slab of cement flew through the window into the room where Iman was praying. It missed the head of Iman’s sister by centimeters and flew straight towards her. She died a few days later in a hospital. Mustafa and Buseina survived because they got up early. The shed where Mustafa had been sleeping moments before was a deep hole full of rubble. Seven trucks of sand were not enough to flatten the land again. Mohammed was killed. His bedroom was very close to where the bomb landed, causing a wall to collapse onto him. Momen and Wafaa’ were injured, but alive.
Mustafa in the ruins of his family’s bombed homes.
Seven trucks of sand were not enough to fill the bombed-out crater where Rafat’s house once stood.
“I heard Wafaa’ screaming from under the rubble. I could see only her toes moving. I tried to remove the stones that fell on her, but it was too much. Instead, I started to dig beneath her and managed to pull her out. She was wounded in her head, bleeding from her eye. Her arm was also injured. Momen was three meters away from Wafaa’. He was also screaming.” – recalls Mustafa.
The explosion was so massive that it sent people and chunks of concrete flying in all directions, especially the small kids. Maysara’s body was thrown onto a nearby roof, Mustafa’s to a balcony; Fara fell on a tree in the neighbor’s courtyard, breaking its branches. Everyone in Rafaat’s house, the kids, Nabila, Rafat and Ahmed, was killed. The bomb fell straight on them.
Ibrahim, the smaller of the twin brothers on the photo, says he misses his best friend, seven-year-old Maysara al-Louh. The two boys, Ibrahim and Abdallah, are standing in their destroyed bedroom, in Deir al-Balah, right in front of where the al-Louh family home used to stand. Their bedroom was damaged in the bombing that killed Maysara and seven other members of al-Louh family.