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Gaza faces increasing power, water shortages, partly because of own rocket fire

Local electric plant to shut down on Sunday; Israeli security official says Hamas rockets have destroyed power lines on Israeli side, leading to cuts for Gaza residents

Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip, May 12, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip, May 12, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Gaza Strip will run out of fuel for its electricity generators by Sunday, an Israeli defense official told reporters on Thursday.

According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Gaza is down to having just five hours of electricity per day, after having 16 hours per day on average before the fighting began.

The lack of electricity is partially due to Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which Gaza receives most of its fuel. According to Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, Hamas rockets also damaged power lines, cutting more than 230,000 Gazans off from electricity.

“Hamas rockets damaged power lines on the Israeli side [leading to Gaza],” clarified another security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Thursday, Israel and Hamas entered their fourth day of hostilities. In total, over 1,700 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel since the start of the fighting on Monday evening, according to the Israeli military.

A Palestinian man, on the rooftop of his home, looks at Gaza’s power plant after it was shut down, in the town of Nusairat, central Gaza Strip, August 18, 2020. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Israel has struck back in Gaza, targeting hundreds of sites across the coastal enclave it says are used by terror groups.

According to the official, three of the four turbines that normally run in Hamas’s power plant are currently out of service as a result of the fuel shortage. Gaza’s electric company shut down one of them as soon as Israel shut the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, in an attempt to conserve fuel.

Gaza’s water supply has also been affected by the power cuts, with residents getting running water only on intermittent days, the official said.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, known by its acronym COGAT, added that Hamas had disabled Gaza City’s desalination plant, cutting some 250,000 residents off from their water supply.

Health officials have warned that the lack of electricity and running water could severely impact Gaza’s fragile health care system, which are already under stress, given the conflict.

“This will have a serious effect on public health and the health of our society,” Hamas health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said on Thursday evening that 103 people have been killed since the round of fighting began in Israeli airstrikes, including 27 children.

The ministry said 530 people have been injured. Israel claims most of the fatalities are either members of terror groups or victims of Hamas rockets that landed inside the Strip.

Israel and a Palestinian human rights group, Defense for Children, have said that several of the civilians were killed by Hamas rockets falling short inside Gaza, not by Israeli attacks, though Defense for Children does claim at least some of the children were killed by Israeli strikes.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven of its members, while Hamas acknowledged that a top commander and several other members were killed.

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