GAZANS STILL WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS TO COME ON

blind-to-gaza

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Israel has the capacity to stop power interruptions today. Sympathetic nations have the influence to insist that Israel does this. If international leadership cannot agree that providing electricity to the people of Gaza — a very achievable goal — should be an immediate priority, how can we possibly imagine that the larger political issues can be resolved anytime soon?

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Why must Gaza wait in the dark?

Separating Gaza’s electricity supply from the political conflict is a step long overdue.

By Sam Bahour FOR

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Gaza aftermath, Gaza city, 6.9.2014

 

When I asked my colleague in Gaza about her biggest dream, her answer made an impression on me: “I dream of what life would be like with 24-hour electricity.” This was the answer of a single, mid-career, western educated, professional woman who lives in the more affluent part of Gaza City. Her response suggests the depth of despair among Palestinians throughout Gaza.

Day-to-day life in Gaza between Israeli attacks is unworthy news for Western mainstream media. As a result, few people are aware that electricity in Gaza is a luxury, with blackouts lasting 16-18 hours—every day. This bitter reality has warped people’s lives for years now, as they must plan their daily activities around the four-six hours when they anticipate electricity, even if that means waking up to put laundry in the washing machine in the middle of the night.

Smoke and flames rise from Gaza

 

Contrary to common belief, the severe under supply of electricity in Gaza is not new, and not a result of the latest military aggression. Gaza has not had uninterrupted electricity since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. In an attempt to compensate for the Israeli disruption of Gaza’s power supply, the Palestinians established their first power generation plant in 2004. Ever since, Israel has regularly limited the supply of electricity and industrial fuel needed to operate this only power plant in Gaza. Israel’s ability to deny families in Gaza the energy they need is nothing less than collective punishment of Palestinians—an entire community is made to pay for the acts of a few.

Separating Gaza’s electricity supply from the political conflict is a step long overdue. Access to electricity—a basic necessity that much of the world, including Israeli citizens can take for granted—should not be conditional upon outcomes of future negotiations. Continued darkness in Gaza serves no one.

During Israel’s military aggression on Gaza this past summer, Israel again bombed the sole power plant in Gaza. (Israel bombed the same plant on June 28, 2006.)  In a July 29, 2014 article about the latest destruction, the Guardian quoted Amnesty International which stated, “the crippling of the power station amounted to collective punishment of Palestinians.” Amnesty went on to note that, “the strike on the plant will worsen already severe problems with Gaza’s water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.”

On September 14, 2014, less than 50 days after the Israeli strike on the plant and less than a month after the cessation of fighting, the Middle East Monitor reported that the CEO of the Gaza Electricity Company, Walid Sayel, announced that Gaza’s power plant was ready to resume operating, pending fuel supply. “The Turkish minister of energy,” the item continued, “had said that his country is ready to send a floating 100 megawatt power plant to Gaza after obtaining the necessary permits [from Israel].” As Palestinians in Gaza try to move on, none of the players involved in the latest debacle, foremost among them Israel, is being held accountable.

The barrier is not simply being without fuel for the power plant. The issue is much more complex and calculated. If Turkey were serious about helping, their floating power station would already be in Gaza’s territorial waters even if they had to face down the Israeli navy and risk an international incident to bring electricity to Gaza. If the Palestinian Authority were serious, we would not have to witness the CEO of a Palestinian power plant begging for the funds needed to get the power plant running. And most importantly, Israel has the capacity to provide Gaza with continuous electricity immediately. According to international law, as the occupying power, Israel has sole responsibility to remedy this issue immediately.

To the governments and leaders who just returned to Cairo for another round of ceasefire negotiations with no timeline or end in sight, I challenge them to first focus on this basic and humane step: Give the people of Gaza access to electricity. It would be a basic step in easing the stresses of life in Gaza where loved ones can’t check in with one another when cell phones can’t get charged, email and Skype calls are not predictable, and having back-up generators for hospitals is literally a matter of life and death.

As what was intended to be a five-year peace process crawls into its third decade, an entire generation of Palestinian children in Gaza who were born in the early 1990s are now turning 16, 18, 20 years old. Their generation has never known a time that didn’t require candles to be able to study after dark due to intermittent electricity.

Israel has the capacity to stop power interruptions today. Sympathetic nations have the influence to insist that Israel does this. If international leadership cannot agree that providing electricity to the people of Gaza — a very achievable goal — should be an immediate priority, how can we possibly imagine that the larger political issues can be resolved anytime soon?

5 Comments

  1. R Davis said,

    October 3, 2014 at 14:20

    “Gaza is unworthy of Western main stream media”
    It is all about the West isn’t it
    Everyone just wants the attention of the West
    If only the Western media would “give us a break”
    We just wannabe wanted like everyone else.

    THE REASON ISRAEL EXISTS IS BECAUSE
    ALL – ALL – ALL- ALL
    THE MIDDLE EASTERN LEADERS OF
    ALL – ALL – ALL – ALL
    THE MIDDLE EASTERN NATIONS AGREED TO ALLOW THE NATION OF ISRAEL TO BE CREATED

    The deal was then & still is now that no one would touch Israel
    Israel could do as it liked & no one would touch them

    Yasser Arafat had a large & powerful defense force
    Yasser Arafat’s defense force could have wiped out Israel easily
    WHY DID YASSER ARAFAT NOT DO LEVEL ISRAEL ?
    Because he agreed not to
    It was his Western benefactors that financed & allowed Yasser Arafat his defense force provided he did not touch Israel
    Israel has never been under threat NEVER

    SO THE PEOPLE OF THE MIDDLE EAST NEED TO ASK THEIR LEADERS WHY THEY ALLOW their beloved ISRAEL TO DEPRIVE GAZA OF ELECTRICITY

  2. joekano76 said,

    October 3, 2014 at 16:22

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

  3. ladybat2 said,

    October 3, 2014 at 19:29

    I agree with R. Davis about Arab leaders allowing israel to exist. BUT its still JEWISH HANDS that committed and still commit the horrible crimes against the Palestinian people! NO ONE IS HOLDING A GUN TO JEWISH HEADS AND FORCING THEM TO. THEY DO SO BY THEIR OWN FREE WILL!

    If I am attacked on the street by a criminal and my neighbor watches the attack and does nothing to help me who is the one most at fault? The person attacking me or my neighbor for not helping me when he could?
    Both are doing wrong. But the attacker is first to blame. The whole crime would not even be happening in the first place if it were not for the criminal committing the crime.

    Jews are the last people on earth that should be oppressing another people helpless against them. Jews know exactly WHY they should be the last people on earth behaving this way.

    Jews are the only ones who can make israel stop. Its not Buddhists, Christians, or Hindus occupying Palestine and oppressing the Palestinian people.

    IT’S JEWS!

    Zionist Jews. And its still a hard cold fact that the over whelming majority of the world’s Jews are Zionist and do support israel.

    The most powerful criminal lobby in Washington is owned and operated by JEWS. This lobby is doing terrible damage to the Palestinian people and to our own country too! It controls everything that pertains to our foreign policy. ITS NOT A LOBBY OWNED BY ANY OTHER PEOPLE BUT JEWS!

    Therefore it is only JEWS who can dismantle it and right the wrongs in our world today!

    Until they do, THIS CONFLICT IS A CONFLICT STARTED, FUELED, AND BEING CARRIED OUT BY JEWS AND NO ONE BUT JEWS.

    No matter how frustrated we all get and how much we want to blame others…

    Don’t get distracted out of frustration.

    Its still about the Jews. Always has been and always will be until JEWS put a stop to it themselves.

    The owner of this blog is a Jew who totally understands that. But its still a sad fact that among Jewish citizens of planet earth he is still in a small minority among Jews as a whole.

    Until the vast majority of the world’s Jews understand the score the way he does….

    There is no hope for an end to this conflict.

  4. October 3, 2014 at 20:05

    […] GAZANS STILL WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS TO COME ON […]


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