Every time I speak with Emad in Gaza things are even worse than the day before. I know how hard it was during the power outages that were 6 hours, but now the power outages are 20 hours in many areas, 18 hours in others, and even entire days—24 hours without electricity. See Press TV’s “Long power outages cripple daily life in Gaza Strip”
The impact is significant and catastrophic: on the individual level, it means days of darkness in homes, no contact with the outside world, not even the luxury of watching news on tv, no power for space heaters if lucky enough to have them, dependence on candles for lighting, reading, cooking by.
But it gets worse, deadly, when considering the impact on hospitals which, although many of them do have back-up generators, cannot depend on generators as a constant power source. These coughing machines spew nauseating fumes, drown out all other sound, but more importantly are designed as a transitional power source, to bridge gaps between brief outages, not as a main source.
When I interviewed Dr. Khalaf a week ago, as Israel was bombing the Strip yet again, he stressed the prolonged and always worsening health care crisis, including the effect of the power cuts:
It is very critical, 180 of 450 of patients’ drug items are at zero stock; 200 of 900 of essential medical items are at zero stock. We lack many essential drugs, including those needed for anaesthesia, antibiotics, specialized milk for infants, treatments for neurological conditions like epilepsy, and cancer medications.
No electricity means no medical service. Electricity is the life of medical service, for all machines; the ICU is completely dependent on electricity, as is the operating theatre, kidney dialysis…
Over a month ago, when the situation was already grave after weeks without power, I wrote:
“More than 80% of patients in the Gaza Strip are threatened to terrible health status and possibility of death due to lack of electricity.
…some 404 of dialysis patients are at risk of death for their treatment is totally based on electricity, …100 children exist in special care are threatened to death .
…72% of the diesel storage has just run out from Gaza hospitals, …Gaza hospitals will be in a complete paralysis in case of not provided with more fuel.”
So a month passes, Israel wages more bombings and assassinations, Palestinians in Gaza are terrorized and killed again, then “quiet” resumes and they are left to their open air prison once again, powerless, fuel-less, jobless, hopeless.
Add to all of that the renewed shortage of cooking gas, another intentional crisis which has plagued Gaza for years under the Israeli-imposed siege which periodically adds cooking gas to the unknowable list of banned goods. Gaza’s Palestinians depend on cooking gas, not electric stoves, for their cooking needs.
The blog Occupied Palestine aptly summarized, in a photo essay, the dire circumstances in Gaza one month ago:
Palestinians wait to fill containers with fuel at a petrol station in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip February 19, 2012. . REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinian transport vegetables in donkey carts in a flooded street in Gaza City, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian youth tries to opens the sewage cover along a street flooding with rain water, in Gaza City on February 19, 2012. The Levant region has seen a high level of rain fall and some snow over the past month. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED
A Palestinian boy cries as he arrives at his home after walking through puddles in Shati refugee camp in Gaza City February 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
No power No treatment with electricity driven life sustaining equipment. Like dialysis
Premature babies receive treatment in Nasser Hospital as the hospital is in danger of running out of fuel, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza on February 16, 2012. Gas stations in the Gaza are drying up due to the crisis in Egypt and the closing of the fuel lines through the ‘smuggling tunnels’ between Rafah and the Egyptian side of the border. An Israel blockade has left Gaza with very little fuel rations for its citizen. UPI/Ismael Mohamad
A number of civil society groups today issued a press release condemning the Israeli-imposed and internationally complicit siege on Gaza, as well as the continuous Israeli attacks on Gaza over the years which have devastated Gaza’s infrastructure:
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine–We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Israeli war crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip. We call on the international community and the Arab and Islamic worlds to take up their responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from this heinous aggression and immediately terminate the continuing Israeli policy of collective punishment.
Since June, 2007 Israel has adopted a continuous series of measures harming the civilian population. In September,2007 Gaza was declared “an enemy entity,” and imports were restricted to 9 basic materials. Prohibited have been such items as certain medicines, furniture, electrical appliances, cows and cigarettes, and decreased amounts of such basic foods as fruits, milk and dairy products. Fuel and electricity supplies have also been cut. Gaza used to depend 100% on Israel for its fuels and close to 60% for its electricity. Gazans, however, resorted to digging tunnels on the Egyptian borders with Palestine in order to get fuel, medicine and other necessities. The Mubarak regime took every possible step to tighten the siege and destroy the tunnels. The ousting of Mubarak should have meant the end of the deadly siege imposed on Gaza. This has not happened yet, one year after the great Egyptian revolution! The Rafah crossing is still “partially” open; supply of fuel through tunnels has completely stopped, and the electricity ration is only for 6 hours a day! Hospital generators have stopped!
Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp with the largest population of prisoners in the world. The international conspiracy of silence towards the slow genocide taking place against the 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.
According to UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
We, therefore, call upon the international community to demand that the rogue State of Israel end its siege and compensate for the destruction of life and infrastructure that it has visited upon the Palestinian people. We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:
– An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
– The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention (to which Israel itself is a signatory.)
-Immediate opening of the Rafah Crossing (24/7) and the flow of goods, fuel and medicine.
– That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
-An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
-Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine
One Democratic State Group
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Israel Apartheid Week Organizing Committee-Gaza