Gaza, living in the dark

February 24, 2010 - 0:0

Gaza survives on a minimal amount of electricity, leaving residents without power for the most part of the day. No television is one thing; no street lighting and hospital equipment is another.

The Israeli Air Force bombed Gaza's main power station in 2006, plunging the strip's 1.5 million residents into darkness. Although the station was repaired, the situation took a turn for the worse in November 2009, when the European Union suspended its monthly aid installment of 13 million dollars, which had paid for the carbon needed to fuel the station. Since then, it has been running at reduced capacity -- 30 megawatts instead of 67 -- and at only certain times of the day.
“Hospitals aren’t able to provide a constant supply of electricity for all their machines”
These constant and long power cuts have turned everything upside-down. We barely get ten hours of electricity per day. To compensate, a lot of Gazans have bought small generators in order to be able to turn on their lights, televisions and computers. Anything that requires a lot of electricity however, like fridges, washing machines, boilers, and motors that pump water to higher floors in a building, are lost on us. We can't have a daily shower and don't get to wash our clothes very often.
The cuts also affect our social lives. Friends and relatives, tired of using the stairs when the lifts don't work, are less likely to visit if you live on the top floor. Old people rarely go out and are affected by loneliness. Children become annoyed because they can't watch their favorite TV programs or play video games. The worst affected are pupils and students; during exam periods they become easily tired after straining their eyes from trying to revise in the dark evenings.
On top of that, the number of car accidents has shot up since the street lights don't work. Hospitals aren't able to provide a constant supply of electricity for all their equipment, putting many people's lives in danger.”
Hussam El-Nounou runs an NGO in Gaza that deals with people suffering mental problems.
Photo: (Photo by Ismail Amir)