Gazans Suffer Due to Fuel and Electricity Shortage

Originally published on Global Voices Online
March 26, 2012

Over the past decade, the words "Gaza" and "crisis" have become almost complementary. The crises have ranged from war and military raids and invasions, to military occupation, and in this case to an electricity and fuel outage.

In addition to an ongoing Israeli-led blockade, the Gaza Strip is suffering from a fresh fuel crisis, with the only fuel currently available being an overpriced Israeli fuel supply in limited quantities. The shortage of fuel has added to the shortage of electricity, as it is used to supply the main generators of the electricity company, alternative power generators at hospitals, bakeries and sewage pumps, in addition to power generators used in households.

Palestinians wait to fill containers with fuel. Image by Majdi Fathi, copyright Demotix (21/03/2012).
Palestinians wait to fill containers with fuel.

Gaza's citizens have been commenting on the situation (when there is electricity to do so):
@Omar_Gaza: Gaza is heading into very dark dangerous turn because of fuel shortage! Bakeries, schools, hospitals, stores, cars, taxies & life will stop sooooon
The first victim of the power outage facing the Strip was seven-month-old baby Mohammed Al Helou, who died after the generator running his respirator ran out of fuel.
@LeilZahra: As we tweet the energy away, hospitals in #Gaza are denied the life-saving energy to sustain their patients #Gas4Gaza
@LuluDeRaven:تخيلوا لو اسرائيل ضربت غزة الان في هاد الوضع؟ لا المستشفيات تقدر تتحمل ولا في وقود لسيارات الاسعاف ولا المطافي ولا اشي !!!
Imagine if Israel attacked Gaza in this situation? Hospitals don't have the capacity to manage, and there's no fuel for ambulances or firetrucks or anything else!
Shortage of electricity and/or fuel is becoming the most popular topic among Palestinians on social media platforms. Things such as Facebook statuses cursing the electricity company, or happy tweets indicating the return of electricity, have become customary.
@Ibtihal4Gaza: ما في أحلى انك تصحى تلاقي في كهربا في البيت‏ #غزة #أشياء_نادرة
It feels so good to wake up and find electricity at home #gaza #RareThings
The electricity company has been dividing the Gaza Strip into areas and neighborhoods, and each gets a power supply for six hours daily on a rotating basis.
Blogger Randa Abu Ramadan has written a blog post [ar] that analyzes your personality according to the time your house gets electricity:
إذا بتيجي عندك من 12 بالليل لـ 6 الصبح: انت شخص طيب ومضحوك عليك, وبتصدق أي كلمة بحكوهالك, لأنو في ناس تانية بتيجي عندهم الكهربا في مواعيد أحسن من هيك, وانت يا ويلي عليك معطيينك موعد عاطل بنفعش لإشي
If you get electricity from midnight to 6am you are a kind person, but you're also naive and easily deceivable. Other people get electricity at better times, but what a pity, you get it at a bad time that isn't useful for anything!
Moreover, people have to find a way to organize their day according to electricity. Yousef Abu Watfa, a reporter for Al Jazeera Talk, has written [ar] about how his friend's mother is affected when doing housework:
أما والدته فتضطر إلى أن تؤجل جميع أعمالها المنزلية إلى ما بعد منتصف الليل حتى تقوم بغسيل ملابس العائلة، حتى تتحول في ذات الوقت إلى طهي الطعام الذي يتطلب استخدام بعض الأدوات الكهربائية.
His mother has to postpone her household chores until after midnight in order to do laundry and cooking, which requires using electrical appliances.

Large numbers of gas tubes are accumulating in stations in the Gaza Strip, as the fuel crisis deepens. Image by Ahmed Deeb, copyright Demotix (05/03/2012).
Large numbers of gas tubes are accumulating in stations in the Gaza Strip, as the fuel crisis deepens.

This could be summarized in a tweet written by Fady [ar]:
@chefadi90: تويتر بعلمنا نختصر افكارنا في 140 حرف , وغزة علمتنا كيف تختصر كل حياتك في 6 ساعات بتيجي فيهم الكهرباء كل يوم
Twitter teaches us to summarize our thoughts in 140 characters, while Gaza teaches us how to compress our whole life into the 6 hours of electricity that we get every day.
Nour Abed, a school teacher, tweets [ar]:
@NourGaza: أطفالي في المدرسة: أجدُّ على كراستهم المهترئة آثاراَ من الشمع المنسكب, كتبوا واجبهم على ضوء الشمعة!
My students at school: when I find tracks of melted wax on their notebooks, I realize that they wrote their homework by candlelight!
As a recent poll shows that 48 percent of Gazans blame their local government for the fuel crisis in Gaza. Izz Shawa wrote on Twitter [ar]:
@izzshawa:الحكومة التي يتطلع لها الشعب في غزة هي التي لا تصدر الأزمات الى غيرها ولكن تبذل قصارى جهدها لحلها وان لم تقدر تعمل على تخفيف حدتها
People in Gaza are looking forward to having a government that doesn't blame the others for their problems, but does their best to solve it or ease it if they can't solve it.
Blogger Yasser Ashour also noticed the exchange of accusations between Palestinian officials as he wrote on his blog [ar]:
لما يعملوا مقابلة مع مسؤل من الشركة ويسألوه عن السبب بيقول : الاحتلال يشدد حصاره ، ولما نسأل قيادي في حكومة غزة ؟ بيقول : سلطة رام الله محتكرة الأموال وبتعمل على قطع الكهربا عن غزة
When we ask an official from the electricity company about the reason he says: The [Israeli] Occupation is increasing its siege over Gaza. When we ask an official from the Gaza government he says: The Ramallah government [the Palestinian Authority] is monopolizing the money and is the reason behind the power outage.
Although the official representatives of the Gaza government have come out with a number of declarations defending themselves, claiming that a huge "conspiracy" is being conducted against them, a lot of people are still not convinced. Blogger and photographer Khaled Safi writes in a blog post [ar]:
لا أجد الوقت الكافي لأتابع تصريحات هنا واتهامات هناك، أصلاً لا أجد الكهرباء لأسمع وجهة نظركم الكريمة، معظم يومي خارج بيتي إما في انتظار المواصلات أو في معركة الوقود أو مناظرة المخبز الصباحية
I can't find the time to keep up with statements and accusations here and there. In fact, I don't get electricity in order to hear your point of view [on TV]. I spend most of my day outside of my house, either waiting for transportation, or in a battle for fuel (at gas stations), or in a morning debate at the bakery.
This post was written jointly by Ola Anan and Yasmeen El Khoudary