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Gaza: Electricity

Volume 471: debated on Thursday 31 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact on civilians of the closure of Gaza’s electricity generating capacity on 20 January 2008 due to shortage of fuel. (183625)

The Government continue to believe that Israeli security and Palestinian suffering and hardship need to be addressed together. We deplore the rocket attacks that Israel suffers. We have also continued to make clear that we do not agree with Israel’s action to close the Gaza crossings.

The Gaza strip requires an estimated 230 megawatts of power daily, at this time of year, of which up to 55 megawatts is normally provided by the Gaza Power Generating Company (GPGC). On 20 January the GPGC stopped producing power when its reserves became too low to continue. During this time, the majority of the Gaza Strip had no electricity for at least eight hours according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Many areas suffered power cuts of up to 12 hours because of breakdowns in Gaza’s ageing electricity network.

This had an alarming impact on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Power cuts mean that Gaza’s water authority has to rely on diesel powered generators OCHA reported that by 21 January there was only enough fuel to pump water from 40 of its 130 wells and to pump sewage at 21 of its 33 pumping stations. At least 40 per cent. of Gazans had no running water during this time. 30 per cent. of the population still had no water by 23 January. Hospitals ran reduced services between 19 to 21 January to preserve their fuel stocks.

Limited fuel supplies were resumed as of 22 January enabling power cuts to be reduced. We welcome the announcement by the Israeli Government on 27 January that it would resume the supply of food and fuel to Gaza to pre-17 January levels.