In 2006, the Israeli military bombed Gaza’s only power plant, destroying its six transformers. Under the blockade, the power plant can’t import parts to replace damaged components. Temporary fixes have allowed the plant to function at a minimal level, but those solutions were never made to last.
Other factors have exacerbated the power crisis, including a halt in smuggled fuel from Egypt in 2013, the destruction of fuel storage tanks and other structures at the plant by Israeli airstrikes in 2014, and the destruction of infrastructure and distribution networks throughout Gaza. Since April 2017, the Gaza power plant has been offline due to limited fuel imports, further limiting electricity in Gaza.
While Gaza’s electrical grid is linked with the Israeli system, Israel limits how much power it sells to Gaza, and existing power lines can only supply a fraction of Gaza’s total needs.
Today, less than one-third of Gaza’s electricity demand is being met. Rolling blackouts leave Palestinians in Gaza with less than four hours of electricity per day—affecting the health and well-being of residents; jeopardizing critical services, such as hospitals, schools, and water sanitation; and making it impossible for businesses to function.
Ending the blockade is crucial to address the power crisis, but it will not improve the situation immediately. Even if new parts could be imported and additional infrastructure could be built, it would take up to five years for the system to reach a point where current needs could be met.
The Gaza power plant operates at less than one-third of its capacity and has regularly had to shut down, due to fuel shortages, caused by fuel costs and Israeli limitations on importing fuel.
Because of the limited power supply, over 70 percent of Gaza households have access to piped water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days.
Since 2010, at least 29 people—24 of them children—have died in Gaza from fires or suffocation directly linked to power outages.
Water is piped to over 70 percent of Gaza households only once every two to four days for four to six hours at a time. That’s because the insufficient power supply can’t provide uninterrupted access to water. And if homes don’t have power during those periods to operate household pumps used to fill cisterns, then they will receive no water.
Hospitals provide only limited services because they rely on generators, which produce insufficient electrical supplies that can damage sensitive medical equipment.
Schools often run without electricity, leaving students in the dark and making many educational activities impossible.