|Ongoing energy crisis affects almost all aspects of daily life
The Gaza Strip continued to suffer from heightened fuel and electricity shortages for the fifth week in a row, characterized by outages of up to 16 hours per day and related disruptions in the provision of vital services, including health, water, sanitation, solid waste disposal and schooling. (See previous Protection of Civilian Report for more details). The current acute crisis began on 1 November, following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant due to lack of fuel.
This week, the electricity crisis was exacerbated in Rafah town, as a result of damage sustained to two of three power lines supplying electricity from Egypt, caused by Egyptian bulldozers operating near the border with Gaza. This triggered power cuts longer than 16 hours per day for three consecutive days. While the increased power deficit placed the area at risk of sewage flooding, this was prevented by the allocation of an extra 5,000 litres of diesel funded by the Turkish Government to fuel the back-up generators at the relevant facilities. Turkey has pledged funding for a total of 800,000 liters of fuel to the most critical sewage, solid waste and health facilities for a period of four months (200,000 liters per month).
Overall, there are 291 water and sewage treatment facilities in Gaza, none of which are functioning adequately, due to a lack of fuel to power the back-up generators. As a result, none of the sewage discharge into the sea (90 million litres a day) can be treated. Clean-up operations for the sewage spills from the main sewage pump that overflowed on 13 November, flooding an area of nearly 160,000 square meters in Az-Zeitoun area south of Gaza City, is still incomplete, continuing to pose health and environmental risks. Around 3,000 people were directly or indirectly affected by the flooding. Other environmental hazards, such as sewage entering the soil and groundwater supplies, have also been reported.
Distribution of fuel donated by the Turkish government began this week. During November, in advance of the Turkish donation, UNRWA allocated some 35,000 litres to a number of critically affected sewage treatment and health facilities..
This week, 165 truckloads of construction materials, designated for projects funded by the Government of Qatar entered Gaza through the Rafah Crossing with Egypt.No construction materials were allowed through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing for the eighth week in a row. The halt in the smuggling of materials through the illegal tunnels under the border with Egypt also continued. This has resulted in the continued suspension of international construction projects and ongoing unemployment in the construction sector. The resulting shortage has also resulted in the loss of income for some 30,000 people previously employed in the construction sector.
Also this week, construction and maintenance of at least 26 educational facilities, implemented by the local authorities in Gaza, came to a complete halt due to the shortage of construction materials.