GAZA — The Gaza Strip — one of the most densely populated areas in the world and often referred to as an open-air prison — rarely makes headlines nowadays, despite a situation there that is becoming increasingly dire for local Palestinians. The Strip, which is about the size of Detroit, is home to nearly 2 million people, a majority of whom are under the age of 25.
Since the 2005 election of Hamas in Palestine, the Israeli government has controlled Gaza’s airspace, food access, acquisition of building materials, and electricity. In the last 10 years, the local population has faced recurrent, if not perpetual, military action, including six full-fledged military operations launched by Israel, with the unwavering support of the United States. In 2014, Operation Protective Edge—a 51-day war—further devastated Gaza, killing over 2,200 Palestinians, more than 500 of them children. It also left the small enclave still more vulnerable, as the homes of some 18,000 residents were destroyed by Israeli bombs.
Still reeling from war, the Palestinians of Gaza have continued to face electricity shortages that leave them without power in extreme weather conditions for up to 20 hours a day. According to the Israeli head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas requested that Israel stop supplying electricity to Gaza in April of this year, due to the Authority’s power struggle with Hamas for control over the Strip. Israel has happily obliged.
These outages have led to creative endeavors such as solar power initiatives. But, especially with Israel denying crucial building materials from entering the Strip, the solar power alternative falls short of allowing residents to have normal lives. Having electricity for two to four hours a day is the worst it has been, according to locals; but they’re not holding out hope that things will get better.
Not until Israel’s siege ends, and those funding the siege, and larger occupation, stop financing this devastation.
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