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Energy Crisis in the Gaza Strip Threatens Hospitals

The Gaza Strip is in the middle of an energy crisis that is close to developing into a full blown humanitarian crisis as their only power plant was forced to shut down operations on 14th February due to a lack of fuel.

“The current crisis is a political problem that started six years ago. The Israeli occupation, the Palestinian Authority's refusal to provide the Gaza Strip with funds, and the policy of Egypt which is dealing with Gaza out of security calculations, have all contributed to the current situation,” said Hamas government spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Following Israel’s trade block, Gaza began importing fuel for their power plant through underground tunnels from Egypt. The tunnels have remained the main supply of fuel into the country, despite Israel lifting their blockade in 2010, however in the weeks leading up to the closure of the power plant supplies began to inexplicably drop, falling as much as 20 percent.

Fawzi Barhoum also said that “Ismail Haniyah, [prime minister of Gaza] is in Egypt at the moment to discuss the crisis and to find a quick solution… But so far… no progress has been made.”

Some fuel did enter the country from Egypt last week, but not nearly enough to restart the power plant. The overall electricity deficit in the country is higher than 60% now.

Mahmud Daher of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is worried that “if the power plant does not resume its work in the next days, some hospitals will be left without electricity.”

Since 14th February hospitals and medical clinics have been running on just 20% of the fuel they need to create the necessary electricity. Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, is one of the worst effected, with just 54 hours’ worth of fuel left at the end of last week. Deputy health minister, Hassan Khalaf, stated that for the past two weeks Gaza has only had six hours of electricity per day. “The nurseries, the ICUs [intensive care units], the operation rooms are all severely affected by that. The crisis is becoming a danger for the most vulnerable.”

Daher warned that, “Theoretically, we could reach point zero at any time soon. In the worst case, the crisis could lead to a stop in vital services for about 100 newborn children, could endanger about 60 people currently in intensive care and about 400 patients who are dependent on life-saving dialysis.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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  • Juha Salo on February 22 2012 said:
    Since this seems to be utter one-sided propaganda and treats Hamas as trustworthy truth teller, here is the other side of the coin.

    If you are going to spread this further, would you at least verify some of the issues?

    "Bloomberg reported on Saturday that Egypt had offered to deliver a hefty supply of fuel to Gaza to get the power plant running again, but that Hamas had refused because the fuel would be delivered via official pumping stations at an Israeli border crossing."

  • Fred Banks on February 22 2012 said:
    This is a problem that could be solved almost immediately if countries like the one in which I am living, Sweden, were not managed by persons who are completely stupid.

    Instead of thowing away money on nonsense, and on countries without a future, nominally neutral countries like Sweden should move immediately to provide Gaza with an efficient health care system. I hope that this author will continue to inform various countries about the situation in Gaza, and to explain to them how easy it is - or should be - to do something about it.

    The author should also tell the health care people in Gaza to make their situation known to the entire world, and especially to news channels, Why is it that e.g. we don't see something about this on CNN?

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