A Nov. 3rd article in the Independent on the use of solar power in Gaza grossly misled readers as to the extent and origin of the strip’s electricity shortages.
The article, “Meet the Gazan woman turning rubble into building blocks and sunlight into power”, by their deputy international editor Gemma Fox, begins thusly:
For Samar, Gaza’s crippling blackouts used to mean a daily, panicked rush to take her son to the nearest hospital so that his lungs wouldn’t fail.
He suffers from a lung disease that has left him dependent on a machine to breathe. But the machine depends on electricity – something in critically short supply in Gaza.
Samar’s story is far from unique, with the enclave’s two million residents forced to try to survive on roughly three hours of electricity since Israel imposed a blockade in 2016.
Hospitals and other buildings rely on generators to keep the power on during the cuts, but they are expensive, and until recently, a luxury that Samar was unable to afford.
First, Israel imposed their blockades of Gaza, due to Hamas’s takeover of the strip, in 2007, not 2016.
Also, it was both Egypt and Israel who imposed a blockade. In Israel’s case, the only items that have generally been restricted are military related (or dual-use) goods.
Additionally, the Indy gets their figures on the daily availability of electricity in Gaza wildly wrong. Palestinians in the strip get around twelve hours a day, not three, as a detailed report and graph by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) makes clear.
Further, the OCHA also has recently reported that power availability in nine of the strip’s thirteen hospitals has “increased significantly from an average of 13 hours per day in the first three months of 2019 to 22 hours per day in April and May”.
The article also errs in suggesting that the Israeli blockade was reason for the crisis. Whilst Israel continues to supply roughly 50% of Gaza’s electricity, the UN reported that the political dispute between the PA and Hamas is one of the primary factors behind the continuing shortage:
The [electricity shortage] deteriorated…after April 2017 due to disputes between the de facto authorities in Gaza and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which has been ongoing since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007. 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 the PA reducing payments for electricity in Gaza.
Finally, and as is typically case with British media reports about economic problems in Gaza, the article completely ignores the role of Hamas in the crisis, particularly their decision to continue spending millions of dollars in aid on rockets and terror tunnels (which cost between 3 and 10 million USD each) rather than funding infrastructure, hospitals and electricity.
Once again, we see the standard Indy formula for reporting from Gaza: factual inaccuracies or distortions, blaming Israel regardless of the evidence, and failing to hold Palestinian leaders even minimally responsible for deprivations in the strip.
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