Al Jazeera World – 2013-01-12 22:14:53
Gaza: Left in the Dark
Al Jazeera World
Filmmaker: Ashraf Mashharawi
(January 9, 2013) — Life in Gaza is not easy amid constant power outages caused by limited electricity supplies and fuel shortages. Gaza is in the midst of an acute power crisis, with blackouts lasting for up to 12 hours and a shortage of generator fuel.
Abdul Aziz Abu Safiea, who works for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, says: “It’s a strange job that only exists in Gaza. I cut the power off and reconnect it according to a set timetable. “I cut off the power to every home in Gaza for at least eight hours every day. Every second, one-third of Gaza’s population is without electricity.”
The frequent power shortage puts at risk the lives of cardiac and dialysis patients and babies in incubators, and increases the daily hardship among the general population. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are a people under siege. Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank back in 1967. Although Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, they have maintained a blockade on the territory.
As a result, over 1.5 million Palestinians suffer to this day from high levels of poverty and dependence on aid. The blockade has prevented the reconstruction of Gaza’s infrastructure – badly damaged during Israel’s successive military assaults on Gaza in recent years.
Living without Dignity
Gaza’s electricity sector remains deficient. Israel refuses to allow in the spare parts needed to rebuild the broken-down infrastructure. Limited amounts of fuel reach Gaza from Israel and Egypt – well below the bare minimum required.
Fathi Barakat, a Palestinian, says: “When it’s hot, we can’t tolerate the heat inside these houses. We stay outside. The fans and fridge broke down because of the heat. We live without dignity.” His wife Sabah adds: “We always have to check the electricity schedule. To know what time the power cuts [are] and for how long. We live our life around power cuts.”
Power cuts also mean that children experience prolonged periods of darkness at a time when they have to study. Often there is no option but to do their homework by gas lamps or candlelight. Gaza: Left in the Dark portrays the many obstacles and complications of life in Gaza caused by the shortage of electricity.
Factors such as Israel’s continued sanctions, Egypt’s crackdown on smuggling, and the fallout from the long Fatah-Hamas enmity all contribute to the dire situation in that part of the world. When the regular blackouts occur, the people of Gaza must find a way to continue life off the grid.
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