Een jaar na Operation Pillar of Defense is het overal in Gaza compleet donker geworden

watersGaza Stad, donderdag 14 november 2013. Palestijnen lopen aan de kant van een straat die werd overstroomd met vuil stinkend rioolwater. Een Palestijnse ambtenaar wijdt de overstroming door rioolwater als gevolg van een chronisch tekort aan electricteit, die noodzakelijk  is om de installaties voor afvalwaters aan te drijven (foto: AP/Adel Hana)

Operation Pillar of Defense begon een jaar geleden en de voorbije 48 uren werden door verschillende groeperingen in Gaza grote militaire optochten gehouden om de verjaardag te vieren van “hun overwinning op de Zionistische vijand.”

Jabari en Gilad ShalitMaar, even deze feestvieringen opzij geschoven, is het in de Gazastrook niet meer zoals tevoren. De operatie begon met de fysieke uitschakeling van de militaire leider van Hamas, Ahmad al-Jabari (plaatje hiernaast samen met de gegijzelde IDF-soldaat Gilad Shalit).

Die resulteerde uiteindelijk in het bereiken van Israël’s doel – een einde te maken aan de beschietingen vanuit Gaza van willekeurige burgerdoelwitten in Israël – zonder dat daarvoor een grondoffensief noodzakelijk werd en Israëlische soldaten de Strook hadden moeten binnenvallen.


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An even greater achievement is the 600-strong Hamas force formed for the sole purpose of preventing missile attacks against Israel. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, remarkably, now consider Hamas something a security asset in so far as that force preserves the stability on the Gaza-Israel border. While it’s true that Hamas continues to arm itself with the latest models of rockets, including those capable of reaching Tel Aviv, and it’s also true that Hamas digs tunnels to be used in case of future escalation, the bottom line is that relative peace and quiet have been maintained in the region.

The question is: How long will it last, especially considering the rapidly deteriorating financial situation in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing shortage of electricity?

Though it may be hard to believe, 1.5 million Palestinians have lived without electricity throughout most of the day in 2013. For the past two weeks, residents of the Gaza Strip have endured a cycle of six hours of electricity followed by a 12-hour power outage. Last Wednesday, the power went out at 6:00 am and was finally restored only late that evening.

This current crisis is not the result of a tighter “Israeli siege” or anything of the sort; it is caused by disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the price of fuel since the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt were shut down or destroyed.

Recent Egyptian military activity rendered out of commission hundreds of tunnels that once connected Sinai and Gaza and were used to import one million liters of fuel into Gaza each day. As a result, Hamas has no choice but to purchase fuel from Israel via the Palestinian Authority at prices similar to those found in the Israeli market, namely over seven shekels ($2) per liter of gasoline. That is a major problem for private car owners.

The more acute problem is that fuel is needed to operate the Gaza power plant that generates the majority of the local electricity. The Palestinian Authority purchases a liter of fuel for the power plant for approximately 4 shekels from Israeli gas companies and has tried to sell it to Hamas for almost double, including excise tax.

Hamas has rejected those prices outright and stopped purchasing fuel for its power plant. The dramatic consequence was that the power plant has shut down and the electricity supply has been completely disrupted. The PA refuses to waive the excise tax, a critical part of its own budget. And the residents of Gaza are the ones who suffer.

“The situation is unbearable,” says R, a Gaza resident who spoke to the Times of Israel recently. “There is no electricity at home throughout most of the day. The elevators don’t work. Those who can afford it buy a car battery to turn on the lights in their homes but that’s not enough to operate washing machines, televisions or other appliances. Imagine what it’s like for people in apartment buildings. Some have generators, but they use fuel which costs seven shekels per liter. So they set their elevators to go on for five minutes every hour.”

A., another Gaza resident, lives in an apartment building in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood. He says that his guests plan their visits around the electricity supply. “Some friends called this evening and, instead of asking when to come over, they asked when the power will be on. Otherwise they’ll have to climb up all of the stairs.”

This pressure is not expected to ease up anytime soon. Egypt continues to crack down on Gaza, Hamas and the PA show no signs of reaching a compromise anytime soon, and as the situation becomes increasingly tense, signs of escalation have begun to appear on the horizon. Israel may be willing to sell plenty of fuel through the PA, but there are no buyers in the Gaza Strip.

These power shortages have caused industries in Gaza to partially suspend operations, thus affecting the incomes of most of Gaza’s population. Said E., another Gaza resident, “There is no work. There’s no electricity. If you think the people will take out their frustration on Hamas, you’re wrong. They’ll take it out on Israel.”

door Avi Issacharoff


Met dank aan Tiki S. voor de hint: “wie niet luisteren wil moet voelen!”

Bronnen:

  1. The Times of Israel:
    ♦ A year after Pillar of Defense, it’s all gone dark in Gaza – Despite celebrations for the ‘victory over the Zionists,’ Hamas, and ordinary Gazans, are feeling the crunch of a fuel shortage and price hikes; door Avi Issacharoff [lezen]
    ♦ Hamas marks year since ‘victory’ against Israel – Interior minister calls on Palestinians to unite to ‘uproot the Jews,’ and says ‘a third intifada is coming’ [lezen]
    ♦ Netanyahu: Gaza war caused 98% drop in rocket fire – Marking a year since Operation Pillar of Defense, PM also lauds cessation of migration from Egypt; door Stuart Winer [lezen]
  2. Ynet News:
    ♦ Hamas marks Pillar of Defense anniversary – Year after Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas’ interior minister calls on Gaza, West Bank to unite in ‘third intifiada’ against Israel [lezen]
  3. Arutz Sheva:
    ♦ One Year Later: Gaza Attacks Down 98% – Netanyahu pleased by success of Operation Pillar of Defense, but warns, ‘We know Hamas is gathering weapons’; door Maayana Miskin [lezen]
    ♦ Jihadist March in Gaza: US, Israel ‘Source of All Evil’ – Despite reports that the balance of power leans toward Israel, al-Quds marches in Gaza to advocate Palestinian Arab nationalism thru Jihad; door Dalit Halevi en Tova Dvorin [lezen]
    ♦ IDF: Hamas Continues to Grow Stronger – Hamas is continuing to build terror tunnels, but the IDF is ready to deal with any threat, says IDF official; door Elad Benari [lezen]

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