The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, warned today about the disastrous consequences of a further reduction in electricity-supply to the Gaza Strip on the living conditions of two million Palestinians. He called upon the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to put the welfare of Gaza’s residents first and to take the necessary measures to avoid further suffering. The UN has already appealed to the international community to support its limited humanitarian efforts to prevent the collapse of vital life-saving, health, water, sanitation and municipal services.
This week marks 50 years since the start of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. For humanitarians this is the most long-standing protection crisis in the UN’s history.
2016 figures indicate fewer fatalities amidst heightened West Bank displacement. As the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation approaches, OCHA’s 2016 Annual Report for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), underscores that occupation policies and practices remain the key cause of humanitarian needs in the oPt. The internal Palestinian political divide is also a serious contributing factor.
The humanitarian vulnerability of Gaza’s population has been exacerbated by recent developments, which deepened the internal Palestinian divide, ongoing since the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas in 2007. In March 2017, Hamas established a parallel institution to run local ministries in Gaza, a step seen as a direct challenge to the Palestinian government in Ramallah. In April, the Palestinian government reduced payments to thousands of public employees in the Gaza Strip. Subsequently, the failure to resolve a longstanding dispute between the two Palestinian authorities on issues related to tax exemption for fuel and revenue collection from electricity consumers, resulted in Gaza’s sole power plant (GPP) being forced to shut down completely. Compounded by a halt in the electricity supply from Egypt due to malfunctioning lines, this has triggered electricity blackouts of 20-22 hours a day.
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. The shutdown occurred in the context of an ongoing dispute between the Palestinian authorities in Gaza and Ramallah on tax exemption for fuel and revenue collection from electricity consumers.
The construction of a new 2.5 km-long road on Palestinian land is currently underway by the Israeli authorities; it will bypass a section of Road 55 running through An Nabi Elyas village (Qalqiliya). Construction has already had an impact on livelihoods and the property rights of the village residents (approx. 1,500), and the negative impact is expected to increase once the road is complete. At least two additional bypass roads are reportedly planned by the Israeli authorities along Road 60: one road is next to Huwwara village (Nablus) and the other is next to Al Arrub Refugee Camp (Hebron).