Gaza has been experiencing a severe electricity crisis since mid-April, when the Gaza Power Plant went silent due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza over tax rates for the fuel needed at the plant.
The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, expressed concern about the deteriorating energy situation in the Gaza Strip and called for swift action from Israeli and Palestinian authorities and members of the international community to protect the provision of critical basic services to Gaza’s 1.9 million residents.
On 17 April, Gaza’s sole power plant (GPP) was forced to shut down completely after exhausting its fuel reserves and being unable to replenish them due to a shortage of funds. Prior to this, the GPP was operating at only approximately half of its capacity, producing nearly 30 per cent of the electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip. On 20 April, electricity supply from Egypt, which accounts for 15 per cent of Gaza’s supply, also came to a halt due to technical malfunctioning that is yet to be repaired. Gaza is currently supplied only with electricity purchased from Israel (some 55 per cent of the previous supply), resulting in electricity blackouts of 20 hours per day, up from 12 hours previously, further undermining the delivery of basic services.
On 26 January 2017, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in the Gaza Strip reported its first official outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) on cattle farms in North Gaza and Rafah. Early epidemiological evidence suggests that FMD may have been carried into the Gaza Strip by animals smuggled from Egypt. By 8 March 2017, FMD had affected 105 farms in Gaza: more than 3,000 cattle (a third of the total population), in addition to nearly 3,000 small ruminants (mostly sheep), slightly less than five per cent of the total.
Following the killing of a Hamas member in Gaza City on 24 March by unknown assailants, the Palestinian de facto authorities in Gaza imposed new access restrictions. Exits through the ‘Arba-‘Arba checkpoint - which controls access to the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel – were particularly affected, further reducing the already small number of Palestinians in Gaza permitted to leave through Erez due to pre-existing Israeli-imposed restrictions. Until 6 April, 102 patients who had been referred for medical treatment outside Gaza missed their appointments and operations and will have to reschedule. These restrictions occurred before the upcoming Israeli national and religious holidays when the opening hours of the Israeli-controlled passenger and goods crossings are normally reduced. On 6 April, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza announced that the restrictions imposed on the exit of people from Gaza had been removed.
Despite significant progress in reconstruction, 7,700 Palestinian families, or about 40,000 people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged during the 2014 hostilities, were still displaced in February 2017, down from over 16,000 families at the start of 2015. The greatest concern is for approximately 4,000 of these families who have not been allocated any funding for reconstruction and see no end in sight to their displacement.