Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have taken to the streets to protest against lengthy power cuts, with no apparent end to the shortage in sight.
For three consecutive days, several hundred Gazans have protested, with demonstrations taking place in Rafah, Khan Yunis and several camps in the central Gaza Strip. Such public displays of dissatisfaction with the authorities are rare in the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by Hamas since it violently overthrew the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2007.
Although power cuts have been a regular feature of life in Gaza for some time, the problem intensified last week when power lines from Egypt failed due to apparent technical problems. Yesterday, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company denied reports that the Egyptian supply had been restored. Gaza also receives electricity from Israel. Meanwhile, Gaza’s sole power station has seen its output slow due to a dispute between Hamas and the PA.
There has been no clear, single target towards for the demonstrators. The New York Times says that on Monday in Bureij refugee camp, demonstrators chanted “We are sick of this life” and attempted to march towards the local electricity distribution plant but were stopped by Hamas security forces. Meanwhile, the Times of Israel says that protestors have also burned pictures of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
Meanwhile, Israel is reportedly considering a Qatari plan to supply the Gaza Strip with natural gas. The plan would require Israel to lay a new pipeline to the Gaza power station from Ashdod, where gas from the Tamar offshore field is processed for Israeli consumption. The cost would be subsidised by Qatar, while the PA and private Palestinian investors would pay for the gas itself.
Although a tentative quiet has prevailed since Operation Protective Edge last summer, several rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel during the past few months. Meanwhile, Hamas is restocking its arsenal of rockets and constructing fresh attack tunnels.