Tragedy looms as Gaza blackout continues, Egypt to pump fuel into power station

Palestinian families in Gaza have been resorting to fire as a source of light and heat as they grapple with an electricity crisis that is threatening lives. (Al Arabiya)

By Yusuf Sadek | Al Arabiya Gaza | Febr 19 2012

With the electricity crisis in Gaza reaching its peak and with the only power station in the strip running out of fuel, Gazans are increasingly suffering from what is seen as the doing of the Israeli blockade while Egypt has promised to make up for the shortage.

“No sooner do Palestinians get out of one crisis than they are pushed into another,” Om Omran al-Astal, an elderly woman from Gaza told Al Arabiya as she lit a fire in the darkness that enveloped the strip.

Lack of electricity, she added, has become more tragic with the cold wave sweeping the strip.

Near Om Omran’s house sat Abu Majid and his family around a fire that they kept feeding with logs.

“We were much better off a while ago,” he said. “We used to get a power outage eight hours every day and now it is up to18 hours.”

Even during the six hours when electricity is back, he added, it is still intermittent.

“We have around10 power outages within those six hours which can lead to serious damage to our electrical appliances.”

The electricity crisis in Gaza started three days ago when the only electricity company in the strip announced that it will stop working due to the unavailability of fuel required to operate the power station which supplies around 60 percent of the residential areas in the strip.

The impact of the power outage is most felt in hospitals and is expected to have tragic consequences for thousands of patients.

“The coming few hours will be the harshest for the health sector in Gaza,” spokesman of Gaza’s Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qedra told Al Arabiya.

Qedra added that thousands of patients as well as doctors are in bad need of electricity and he expressed his concerns over the destiny of dozens of children in incubators.

Head of the Intensive Care Unit in the Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza said a tragedy is bound to happen if the power outage continues.

“Hundreds of kidney patients cannot survive without electricity because they need regular dialysis,” he told Al Arabiya. “There are also dozens of patients in the Intensive Care Unit surviving on electricity-operated equipment.”

The continuation of the outage, he added, spells death for them.

The only solution to the problem, Qedra pointed out, is Egypt’s intervention.

“We are waiting for the Egyptian revolution, military council, and parliament to support Gaza through pumping fuel into its only power station by linking it to the regional network and saving us from the Israeli occupation.”

Al-Sayed Nagida, head of the Industry and Power Committee at the People’s Assembly, Egypt’s lower house of parliament, said Egypt is to start pumping fuel into Gaza Sunday.

The supply, he added, will include 500,000 liters for the power station and 100,000 liters for cars.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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