Caritas report from Gaza - three months without electricity

 Since September 2000 and the beginning of the current round of problems here in Palestine, the Israeli army has seemingly targeted everything to negatively affect the life of the Palestinians, especially in Gaza. Gaza is suffering from the closure of the borders to goods and people to the killing of civilian bystanders who have been caught in the crossfire of military confrontation and targeted assassinations. A potent weapon in the fight against the Palestinian people is the cutting off of electricity. During the last five years, Israeli air strikes, bulldozers and tanks kept targeting power networks, especially places which are close to the Israeli border and the Israeli settlements. Three months ago, an Israeli warplane targeted the only power station in the Gaza Strip and it is one of the biggest catastrophes for the people of Gaza in recent memory. This power station provided half of the Gaza Strip with electricity. The other half reaches Gaza through links from Israel and sometimes this source is not enough to provide electricity even to the targeted 50% of Gaza. "Lack of electricity is a serious crisis which affects all sectors and services", said Mr Jamal Dardasawi, Head of Public Relations of the Electricity Company in Gaza. "The Israeli side provides half of the Gaza Strip's needs for electricity, but this source is not always guaranteed." At night, darkness covers Gaza. The streets are without light. Fr Manuel Musallam, Parish Priest of Gaza said: "When one walks in the streets of Gaza at night, you hear crying babies and children, because they are afraid of the dark and their homes have no light." The sound of small generators is heard in every place in Gaza. People are bothered by this noise, but they try to adapt to the situation. Caritas Jerusalem's Gaza Medical Center also uses its generator when the electricity is cut off to ensure that medicines requiring refrigeration remain cold to be utilized in benefit of the patients needing them. This crisis has been ongoing for three months. It has affected businesses, services, people and the whole life in Gaza. How does cutting off electricity affect the people's life in Gaza? And what do people think about it? Mamoun Ferwana, who is in charge of a medical laboratory, said: "We are trying to adapt. In this laboratory, we have a generator, but it is not doing the job properly like the normal electricity Sometimes when the Israelis close the crossings, we don't have petrol even to fuel the generator." Husain Nakhala, owner of a supermarket, said: "Everyday I lose due to spoiled goods. Ice-cream, diary products and cheese and chocolates all spoil, because the electricity cuts off. I have an air conditioner which is not working. It is a horrible problem." Naji Asamak, 24 years old, works in a dry clean shop in Gaza. He said, "When the electricity cuts off, the shop becomes useless. Generators are expensive and if we have a generator, it will not load enough electricity for a shop full of machines. When customers come to get their clothes and find them not clean, they become angry and we lose clients." Ramy Al-Khaldy, 30 years old, works in a shop for selling flowers. He said, "The losses reach 90%. We keep flowers in refrigerators in order for them not to wither At night, I close the shop and leave. We try to replace them with artificial flowers instead of the natural, but most of customers still want only natural flowers. It is a hard situation." Cutting off electricity affects every sector in Gaza. It is a problem that touches every Gazan. Water is not clean because filters and water pumps are not working. Hospitals do not have secure power sources and this affects medical treatment. This issue touches all aspects of life. Ibrahim Alejla, a new graduate, said: "We are not able to watch the news, because there are no TVs in operation. Sometimes when the crossings are closed, we don't receive newspapers. We are living in isolation in a big open prison." Mohammed Gattas, a university student, said: "Last month, I had an exam. I wanted to revise my lessons at night, but the electricity cut off. I was psychologically destroyed Summer in Gaza is hot. I couldn't turn on the fan. I need to search and use the internet for my obligations at university, but I cannot When electricity is off, life is also off." Gattas added: "Although there is killing, psychological pressure and no normal life, we Palestinians still try to enjoy every moment. I go with my friends or family to sit under the moon ight on the beach or in the parks and we talk. The social relations are better than any other time before." Mr. Jamal Dardasawi, Head of Public Relations of the Electricity Company said: "According to an agreement, the Egyptian side will provide us a source of electricity. Unfortunately, though the Rafah terminal is closed and we are not able to work on this project." Source: Caritas Jerusalem

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