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Gaza power crisis worsens as winter approaches

Dec. 8, 2013 4:05 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 9, 2013 11:24 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip Power Authority is worried that electricity will be available for less than six hours a day in Gaza as winter approaches, an official announced during a news conference on Sunday.

Director of public relations for the main electricity authority in Gaza Jamal Dardasawi warned that the company would fail to meet even a minimum of six-hour electricity distribution a day as winter approaches due to increasing demand.

Dardasawi said that the electricity available in Gaza is now down to 25 percent of what is needed and is expected to fall to 20 percent or even less due to weather conditions.

"It has become impossible for the electricity company to meet the minimum power needs of the population of the Gaza Strip," he added.

Dardasawi pointed out that the Egyptian grid which supplies power to Rafah and southern Khan Younis in the south was disconnected Saturday and the Gaza company was unable to provide electricity to these areas.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.

Egyptian Maj. Gen. Ahmad Ibrahim said in October that nearly 800 tunnels had been destroyed since the beginning of the year at that time, while Rafah officials estimated in September that these operations had demolished 95% of previously existing tunnels.

Gaza Strip energy officials blame Egypt for destroying these tunnels while maintaining the larger economic blockade, along with Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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