Electricity crisis in Gaza requires rapid EU intervention 29Jun10 June 30, 2010

Dear Parliamentarian,

In the present sweltering heat of the Gaza summer, civilians are currently suffering from electricity blackouts often lasting for between eight to twelve hours duration (up from average cuts of six to eight hours before January 2010). According to the U.N “these cuts affect the provision of essential services  water supply, sewage removal/treatment…medical treatment, refrigeration of food, water pumping and air conditioning.” This situation is unsustainable and the EU has a vital role in ensuring that this is rectified.

The facts:

  • The Siege has led to situation whereby only 56% of Gaza’s electricity needs are currently being met
  • The sources of Gaza’s power supply are approximately 17MW from Egypt, 144MW from Israel and 80MW from a power plant in Gaza which is funded by the EU – the rest comes from privately-owned generators.
  • The Gaza power plant’s fuel is usually brought in through the main fuel entry point between Israel and Gaza – the Nahal Oz crossing.
  • Israel currently only permits 2.2 million litres of diesel fuel need for electricity generation per week while if the power infrastructure was operating at full capacity generating capacity a requirement of 3.3 million litres per week would be necessary.
  • The siege on Gaza has meant that parts required to rebuild the broken power infrastructure have often been denied, particularly since the destruction after Operation Cast Lead.
  • This situation is currently being exacerbated by a dispute between the Palestinian Authority (P.A) and the Hamas government in Gaza. The P.A claims the Hamas government in Gaza needs to contribute towards operation costs and the collection of funds from people in arrears, while Hamas claims that the P.A is manipulating the electricity supply in order to damage Hama’s control over Gaza.
  • Since the end of 2009 the EU has shifted from making payments to directly fund the costs of fuel need for electricity generation and is instead paying into the general budget of the P.A.

The actions needed:

The EU needs to put pressure on both Palestinian groupings to resolve this humanitarian emergency as quickly as possible – with disputes between the two factions being put to one side. For instance it should immediately insist that the P.A disperse the money allocated for paying electricity fuel costs already granted to it by EU funding. If this fails the situation on the ground is so urgent that the EU should take concrete action by bypassing the P.A and paying the costs of the fuel itself.

We ask that you urgently show your concern for the current electricity situation by contacting the respective EU officials and offices involved in dealing with this policy.

Dr. Arafat Shoukri
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza

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