Electricity crisis brings dark times for women in Gaza

A Palestinian woman lights a candle inside her house during power cut in the southern Gaza Strip.  

Israel’s blockade keeps Gaza in the dark

The Gaza Strip has been under siege for a decade, with a strict Israeli-Egyptian blockade controlling the entry and exit of people and goods. Electricity is rationed throughout the territory, as Gaza has access to less than half of its power needs through purchases and local generation, officials say. Residents may receive eight hours or fewer of electricity a day, with blackouts common. Gaza’s power plant was bombed in 2006 and the electricity network suffered further damage during the 2014 war, straining the system to its limits. The lack of electricity also has consequences for the pumping and treatment of sewage water. In addition to Israeli attacks and restrictions, infighting between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah have contributed to a lack of progress in solving the territory’s power crisis. “There are plans to develop a new power plant or even solar fields, but … we need international approval and we lack agreements between Fatah and Hamas,” said Hazem Ahmed, a representative of Gaza’s local power company.

Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza

 A Turkish ship carrying more than 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip has reached the Israeli port of Ashdod. The vessel Lady Leyla set sail late on Friday from the Turkish city of Mersin. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said it docked in Ashdod after a 35-hour journey. In 2010, relations between Turkey and Israel imploded when an Israeli naval raid killed nine Turks on board an aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Lady Leyla has now been unloaded and the aid donations will be transported overland through Israel to Gaza. The ship is carrying food, toys, clothes and shoes, according to Turkey’s disaster and emergency management authority. The delivery comes before the start of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. A six-year political standoff between Turkey and Israel ended last week when the two countries agreed to normalise ties.

Another winter in Gaza

More than a year since Israel’s deadly onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip, the United Nations refugee agency (UNRWA) estimates that 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza are preparing to spend a second winter in damaged homes and makeshift structures.
Despite promises made by Arab nations such as Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to provide funds to rebuild homes, many families are still waiting for aid. With deliveries of concrete hinging on Israeli permits, Gaza’s reconstruction process has faced grinding delays, fuelling a black market with significantly inflated prices for building materials
 Many of Gaza’s makeshift homes are unfit for the upcoming cold, wet winter. Some have walls made solely out of plastic sheeting and pieces of fabric, while others are made from pieces of corrugated iron. Other families continue to live in precarious, partially destroyed buildings, with gaping holes and dangerous hanging chunks of concrete.
For the families trying to live and survive here, the upcoming winter has become a consuming worry. Rain is already destroying cobbled-together walls, and there is little escape from the cold. Pneumonia killed several Palestinians in Gaza last winter, and many are concerned about what the coming months could bring.

Anger and frustration over killing of Palestinian baby

The death of an 18-month-old Palestinian baby in firebomb attack at his family house in the occupied West Bank, has been condemned around the world. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had ordered his foreign minister to file a complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “We want true justice, but I doubt that Israel will provide that,” he said of the attack which took place in Duma village, south of the city of Nablus.
Family members buried the toddler, who was burnt to death by suspcted Jewish setllers, as his parents and four-year-old brother were fighting for their lives at an Israeli hospital. At least one Palestinian has been killed during clashes with Israeli forces. Settler violence is not new, and the Israeli authorities have been accused of not doing enough to stop it. According to the UN, at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers have been documented in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of 2015. A recent report by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organisation, showed that more than 92.6 percent of complaints Palestinians lodge with the Israeli police go without charges being filed.

Gaza : The scars of war

One year since the beginning of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are left with huge scars of war. Many are still homeless, waiting for reconstruction to begin in the blockaded enclave. None of the 12,600 homes destroyed a year ago have been rebuilt, leaving up to 100,000 people still displaced, with many of them living in makeshift tents or struggling to earn enough to pay rent in an economy shattered by 8 years under blockade. An extra 83,977 housing units are still waiting for repairs and people continue to live in homes with gaping holes from the bombardment.
 While much has been made of mechanisms to bring in construction materials which the blockade prevents, the problem goes deeper than merely providing building materials. At present, Gaza is getting just 7.5 percent of daily construction materials needed to cover the housing demand for the next five years, but even where materials are available, the people lack the finances to start reconstruction in an area with the highest unemployment rate in the world. Large swaths of rubble are still waiting to be cleared – some still containing unexploded ordnance from the war – while the water network has suffered severe damage and electricity only comes intermittently.
 The following photo essay shows some of the people in Gaza and their struggle to survive a crippling blockade one year after the last war that destroyed their houses and killed members of their family and friends. The stories range from a fisherman who had his boat – the only source for his family’s livelihood – destroyed, to a father and a grandfather who lost six of his family members, including his wife and three sons. These individuals live with the scars of war every day.