Gazans protest over lengthy power cuts

Demonstrations across Strip after breakdown in supply from Egypt; pictures of Abbas burned

Palestinians take part in a protest against a power crisis in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 14, 2015. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
Palestinians take part in a protest against a power crisis in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 14, 2015. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Palestinians in Gaza protested for the third consecutive day Tuesday over power shortages in the Strip, which has recently been suffering from outages of up to 20 hours at a time.

Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Rafah, Khan Yunis and in refugee camps in the central Strip, calling for a resolution to the energy crisis.

Gaza residents have been enduring electricity shortages for years, but the situation intensified last week when power lines from Egypt went down, with the Egyptians citing “technical problems.”

There is also a shortage in the supply of fuel for the lone power station in Gaza, due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority administration in the West Bank and Gaza rulers Hamas.

On Monday, Gaza protesters burned pictures of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Activists from Abbas’s Fatah party have accused the Hamas military wing of provocation during the protests.

The Gaza Strip currently only produces some 28 percent of the electricity it consumes. Out of 212 megawatts used by Gazans, 60 are produced in the territory, 120 are produced in Israel and 32 in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Israel is considering a plan proposed by Qatar to supply Gaza with natural gas. The plan would see Israel laying a new pipeline from Ashdod, where gas from the offshore Tamar field enters the country, to the power station in the Gaza Strip, located only a handful of kilometers to the south.

The Gaza station, which currently can supply electricity for just eight hours each day, would be converted to work with the natural gas, expanding its output dramatically. The station was also damaged in an IAF strike during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas. The IDF said that the station was not deliberately targeted.

According to the proposal by Muhammad al-Ahmadi, the head of Qatar’s committee for rehabilitating Gaza, the Gulf state would pay NIS 38.6 million ($10 million) toward infrastructure costs such as laying the pipeline. The gas itself would be paid for by the Palestinian Authority and private Palestinian funders under its auspices.

Ahmadi has also begun talks with private Israeli solar power companies to construct solar power fields in Israeli territory to produce 100 megawatts for Gaza’s use.

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