#GazaCrisis | Fuel Crisis in Gaza: Cutting Off Life

Palestinian school children do their homework on candle light during a power cut in Gaza City on 27 March 2012. (Photo: AFP – Mohammed Abed)

By: Ruqaya Izzidien | Al Akhbar | June 14, 2012

The lack of fuel is destroying local industries and making living conditions harder to bear.

The hum of the domestic jungle disappears in a flash. Fridges and televisions shut off instantly and the streets fall eerily dark. Gaza rarely falls silent naturally, but during the nightly blackouts, it becomes soundless – at least temporarily. The silence is invariably broken by an overhead F-16, a drone or – as has occurred several times in the last month – an airstrike.

Since February, Palestinians in Gaza have been experiencing the worst fuel crisis to hit the territory in living memory. In April, Gaza’s only electricity plant shut down three of their four generators. Last week, a vital fuel delivery from Qatar was held up for several days. Meanwhile the electricity plant’s final generator puttered out of service. At its peak, it could only supply a maximum four hours of electricity a day.

Although Gaza has received the long-awaited fuel delivery, extensive blackouts still grip the territory and many fear that the damage has already been done. Worst hit by the crisis are Gaza’s local industries. Although they managed to survive a siege, workers now fear continuing shortages may end what little is left of Gaza’s self-sufficiency.

Khalil Shaheen is the head of economic and social rights at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. He explained, “Farmers don’t even have fuel to pump water through their irrigation systems or to fertilize their produce. They are unable to operate their small machinery and tractors, and this is the harvest season. Even providing light in the house is a problem.”

Worst hit by the crisis are Gaza’s local industries. Although they managed to survive a siege, workers now fear continuing shortages may end what little is left of Gaza’s self-sufficiency.This forces Gaza’s traders into an un-winnable quagmire; they cannot store imported products because they have no fuel to power their refrigerators. At the same time, the stock of seasonal produce – including sardines, wheat, barley, cantaloupes, tomatoes and apricots – is severely depleted, both in quality and quantity.

Majda Qudeih is a farming coordinator who helps farmers in Abasaan, southern Gaza to harvest in areas close to the Israeli-imposed no-go zone. She explained,
“The fuel crisis affects all farmers, of course. It’s currently wheat harvest season and they need petrol for the wheat threshing machine, which separates the stalk from the grain. But there’s just no fuel.“

The fuel crisis has had a damaging effect on more than just food. 21-year-old Ahmed Naim Abidrabu comes from a family of flower farmers in Rafah. The once prestigious trade of flower farming has become almost a niche, as Israel permits only a fraction of the produce to leave Gaza for trade. The flowers that remain are sold at rock-bottom prices to the local market. But this year many flowers, without fuel, wilt, die, and end up as animal fodder.

Abidrabu explained, “The fuel shortage has really had a damaging effect on the flower farming industry. As soon as we cut the flowers, they are supposed to be put straight into a refrigerator for a couple of days, awaiting transportation to Israel. If they make it through the border they lie in transit there for around 5 or 6 days, before they end up on the Dutch high street around 10 days later. With no refrigeration, the flowers won’t last 10 days so we can’t sell them. If they wilt and die before being sold, we as farmers have to make up the cost.”

Mahmoud Elhissi is a 25-year-old fisherman from Gaza City. During the summer, he fishes at night, setting off at 4pm and returning at 7am.

“We suffer greatly under the fuel shortage because fuel is the only way for fishing boats to get out to sea. This crisis affects us more than most, first it hinders our work, and then it affects us at home, where we have no fuel for generators to give us electricity and light.”

Elhissi explained that in over the last six months, fuel prices have doubled, from 2.6 shekels (70 cents) per liter to 5 shekels.

Currently, under rations allocated by Gaza’s authorities, Elhissi is only able to buy 80 to 100 liters of fuel to last him for three days. Before the crisis, he would use up to 500 liters. This has also driven up the price of fish, but the margin for profit has decreased drastically. The current fuel shortage has hit Gaza in the middle of sardine season. Currently, Gazan-caught sardines cannot compete with sardines imported from Egypt, which sell for around one quarter of the price.

Elhissi explained, “Most of the sardines are out at around six miles, but by order of Israel, we have to stay within three miles. Three miles – that’s not enough room for me to swim in! But imagine if they allowed us to go to six. Imagine the sardines we’d catch!”

Rami Habboush owns a grocery shop near Gaza’s port. He explained the drastic effect the power crisis has had on his business.

During the peak of a fuel crisis, Palestinians in Gaza often need to exercise their resourcefulness. Taxi drivers are known to fill up their tanks with corn oil when their gasoline runs out. One motorcyclist even siphoned fuel out of his engine to fill up a friend’s generator during a blackout. “The biggest problem we have is powering our generator. Over the last two days, we’ve had no electricity for twelve hours and now we have no petrol to fill the generator.

With no generator, the fridge and freezer cut out and everything inside spoils. Frozen meat, vegetables and fish, as well as cheese, yogurt and milk all depend on the electricity, and these days, they go off.”

Habboush stressed that it’s not just refrigerated food that spoils. “Without electricity, we cannot power the air conditioner, so the chocolates melt. When the temperature gets too high, even dry beans, lentils and chickpeas go bad.”

He explained that for grocery store owners, winter can be kinder, offering a natural cooling system for frozen and refrigerated products, but explained, “Ironically, we actually had a relatively reasonable fuel supply at that time.”

During the peak of a fuel crisis, Palestinians in Gaza often need to exercise their resourcefulness. Taxi drivers are known to fill up their tanks with corn oil when their gasoline runs out. One motorcyclist even siphoned fuel out of his engine to fill up a friend’s generator during a blackout.

In a nation that depends on foreign imports, this fuel shortage is a double-blow. Without fuel, debilitated farming and fishing industries battle to stay afloat. As Gazans struggle to pull away from dependency on foreign imports, many of the pre-packaged imports end up unrefrigerated and spoiled anyway.


Ministery declares state of emergency – Photography
Gaza Health Care in Crisis – January 2012 – Photography

Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly establish that Israel, as the occupying power, not only has a duty to ensure medical supplies reach hospitals in the OPT, but to ensure and maintain the services of the hospitals too. As High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, other states not only have a moral duty but also a legal obligation to ensure Israel abides by its commitments to the protected population of the OPT.

UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, As a States Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israel is obliged under Article 24 of the treaty to recognise the right of every child under its effective jurisdiction “to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services”.

Update as per June 3, 2012

  • June 14, 2012 | WHO: Gaza closure compromises right to health | Maan
  • May 29, 2012 | Fuel Crisis Impacts Water and Sanitation & Health Services in Gaza | Source
  • May 20, 2012 | “Long and Healthy Lives” of Babies in Danger as Vaccins are Depleted | Alert
  • May 18, 2012 | Lives of more than 400 kidney patients at risk in Gaza | Source

note occpal | June 3, 2012 | At this moment 204 types of medication and 218 types of medical consumables are depleted completely. 200 others are on their way to depletion. Including zero stock of Thalassamia and Cancer medications are not available.

The fuel crisis prevents normal operation of nurseries, ICU & heart units and the emergency generators will encounter problems to face normal surgery schedules. Due to blackouts of power, also sewerage, water pumps and all operating on power shuts down which poses extra health risks which is unacceptable.

The international community though, is not pressuring Israel though about it’s killing by proxy policies which causes 1.7 million people in Gaza now to be effectively in a state of emergency and severe deprivation.

More Resources or related information:

  • June 9, 2012 | Gaza health ministry cautions over 450 medical items running out | Petra Jordan News Agency
  • Over 173 Children died due 2 obstructed healthcare: Report Al-Mezan
  • Download the Full Report of Al-Mezan (PDF)
  • Palestinian deaths following infringement of right to medical treatment – B’ TselemReport
  • 35 babies died at Israeli checkpoints – Report
  • Israel Kills Dialysis in Gaza – 450 Patients Lives Are In DangerReport
  • Dialysis in Paralysis | Electronic IntifadaReport
  • Factsheet on Gazan Children’s Access to Medical Care – Al Mezan | 173 children diedReport
  • UK Diplomat wife dies after forced to renew Jerusalem permitReport
  • 2 Children & Lives of Dozens of Others Endangered Israel’s Infringement of Medical CareReport
  • Infant close 2 death as Israel denies medicationReport
  • Starve Them – Shoot Them – Then Give Them CancerReport
  • PUT PALESTINIANS ON A DIET – Media Bury documents revealing israel’s deliberate policy of near starvation for GazaReport
  • Israel to Supreme Court to prevent exposure of document containing minimal calorie requirements for Gaza – May1, 2011Report
  • Israel Restricts the Access of Gaza Patients to Urgent Medical Treatment if their Condition is Not Life-Threatening | In violation of Medical Ethics and International Law | Al Mezan | June 30, 2010Report
  • Children and Armed Conflict: Developments in the OPT | UN | April 13, 2010Report
  • Water apartheid leaves Palestinian children ill | Report

Medical care by asked/forced collaboration

  • Palestinians hoping to leave Gaza Strip asked to collaborate with Israel – PHR Isael – Dec 28, 2011Report

Torture, Healthcare or neglect of healthcare in Prisons

  • UFree: Israeli doctors conceal torture incidents in Israeli jails | UFree Report
  • Doctoring the Evidence Abandoning the Victim – Complicity of Israeli physicians in torture – PHRReport


  • Gaza Siege devastates Health care – Jan 2, 2011video
  • Avoidable Death of Pregnant women & their Unborn at Israeli Checkpointsvideo
  • If you have no idea about avoidable mortality by Israel’s deliberate policies: Meet BABY FIRASvideo


  • Arab-Palestinian Citizens of Israel: Discrimination in Access to Health; Lower Health – PHR – Report

While in the horrible holocaust, 1 in 6, so 1 million people died of the Nazi but exactly similar deliberate deprivation, Israel is doing exactly the same to Palestinians. Research (see link below) showed the annual deathrate by violent & passive aggression is about 5000 deaths a year. Called Avoidable mortality or Excess Death.

The Palestinian Genocide – The fact which are being silenced | Research

Special Topics

In pictures

Children of Palestine – in photos (Click to see the full album)

More pictures in the Gallery Images | الصور

How many more dead corpses of Palestinians and their children does the international community need to see in order to act?
How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed?
How long so the world intervenes in this ongoing warcrime and it will be stopped once and for all?

For the sake of children and ill people in Palestine, share this post as wide as you can and keep sharing it. Health is no choice for many, right to medical care is a Human Right. Infringement of such is a passive form of aggression which policies Israel deliberately deploys with the intention to ethnic cleanse.

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