IOF Airstrikes Severely Damage Gaza’s Electricity Distribution Network: Power Plant Shutdown Threatens Basic Services for the Gaza Population
Date: 14 May 2021
Time: 19:30 GMT
As the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip continues, the Gaza Strip’s Electricity Distribution Company announced that the whole Strip will lack electricity as the only power plant is about to shut down due to the closure of Kerm Abu Salem and running out of its available fuel necessary for its operation. Moreover, many main power lines supplying electricity from the Israeli side were damaged.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, the available electricity is estimated at 101 megawatts; meanwhile the Gaza Strip requires 400 megawatts, leaving the Gaza Strip at a 74.7% power deficit, which increased significantly after 5 main power lines supplying electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip were damaged as a result of the Israeli air strikes, stripping the Gaza Strip of 60 megawatts of electricity, i.e. 50% of the 120 megawatts supplied by Israel. It is expected that the deficit in electricity will exceed 90% after Gaza‘s sole power plant shuts down, provided the rest power lines from Israel will remain operative, otherwise the deficit will be much higher.
The Electricity Company announced that IOF airstrikes caused significant damage to 5 main power lines that supply electricity from the Israeli side, as well as 8 main power transformers, 62 high and192 low voltage lines, which inflicted a 4.97 million USD loss on the company. The company indicated that this situation will increase the burden and pressure on the electricity sector in an unprecedented manner, and will lead towards a dangerous situation that threatens the collapse of Gaza’s main sectors, including health, water, sanitation, public services. The company confirmed that at least 687,000 beneficiaries are currently affected by the grave destruction to the electricity network.
The shutdown of the power plant will have implications on basic services provided to 2 million citizens living in the Gaza Strip, will increase the hours of power outage to more than 20 hours per day, and will cut potable water supply for long periods. Also, sanitation and sewage treatment services will suspend and untreated sewage water will pump into sea.
Moreover, the power outage for long hours in health facilities will adversely affect heath services needed by the Gaza Strip population, especially in light of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip and the hospitals and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that are overcrowded with hundreds of wounded persons due to the Israeli airstrikes. The death toll since the beginning of Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has mounted to 122, including 31 children and 20 women, and total number of injuries has risen to 542, including 158 children and 121 women.
Furthermore, the power outage negatively affects operation of laboratories and blood banks by failing to do the required laboratory tests, especially in light of the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Gaza Strip.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the Gaza Strip is 105807, including 98371 recovered, 6456 active cases, and 980 deaths. Among active cases: 106 receive special health care at hospitals; 83 of them are in serious and critical health condition.
The repercussions of power outage threatens lives of dozens of newborns babies at the seven incubators in the Gaza Strip hospitals, which mainly depend on electricity to operate. The continued power outage and use of alternative power sources cause damage to equipment, such as neonatal resuscitation devices and ventilators, endangering the lives of the newborns and might lead to death.
Also, power outage will significantly affect the scheduled surgeries at Gaza hospitals; an average of 3,864 surgeries monthly, ranging from small to medium and major surgeries. These surgeries are operated in 48 operating rooms across Gaza hospitals. However, this poses risk to patients in the Intensive Care Units (ICU), where bed occupancy rate is (80%), noting that the lives of those patients mainly depend upon ventilators. Additionally, power outage prominently affect the hemodialysis departments in the Gaza hospitals, which only have 131 dialysis machines, indicating that there are 923 dialysis patients across the Gaza Strip governorates.
PCHR reiterates that the Israeli systematic policy of tightening the closure on the Gaza Strip and banning the entry of fuel for the power plant is a form of collective punishment and inhuman and illegal reprisals against civilians in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, PCHR expresses its strong concern over the catastrophic consequences that may occur due to the shutdown of the power plant and hereby affect all basic services provided to the population. Thus, PCHR:
- Stresses that the primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the Gaza Strip population lies with Israel in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law;
- Calls upon the international community to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to end the use of the collective punishment policy against the civilians in the Gaza Strip; and
- Calls upon the international community to intervene immediately and urgently and put pressure on Israel to allow the entry of fuel necessary for the operation of the Gaza Power Plant.