Voices from Gaza

In 2007 Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza under the pretext of national security. However, human rights groups and Palestinians maintain that the siege, which severely restricts the import of much-needed goods and humanitarian aid and curtails the export of goods of almost any sort, constitutes a form of ‘collective punishment’, illegal under international law. Indeed, in addition to the policy of ‘purposeful humiliation’, the living conditions of the Palestinian population are significantly below the standards enjoyed by the Israeli population inhabiting neighbouring areas outside the blockade. Moreover, according to a UN report, Gaza will not become a ‘liveable place’ by 2020 unless remedial action is taken now.

To make matters worse, Gaza was subject to severe military attacks as part of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, which included the illegal employment of white phosphorus in populated areas during the winter of 2008/2009. An estimated 1.400 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, and including at least 308 minors[4].

We have been deprived of regular supply of electricity since Apartheid Israel bombarded the only electricity grid Gaza has; this comes as part of the policy of collective punishment Israel has been practicing against the 1.8 million Palestinians of Gaza since the imposition of the medieval siege in 2006, condemned by main-stream Human Rights organizations, and described by Richard Falk as a “prelude to genocide.” Wood Group should not be complicit in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians; instead it should show respect for basic human rights like what the international community did in the 19807’s and 80’s against the Apartheid system of South Africa.  Haider Eid, BDS activist, Gaza.

In 2006 the Israeli Air Force launched an attack on the only electrical power plant in the Gaza Strip, again in violation of norms of international humanitarian law. The plant’s transformers were only substituted in autumn 2012.

Due to the restrictions on the import of industrial diesel into Gaza, the population has been subject to further chronic power shortages since 2007 as the Gaza power station (supplying one-third of the area’s electricity) has been required to limit its electricity output accordingly and, at times, even shut down entirely. Consequently, healthcare, water and sewage systems have once more been affected. The situation further deteriorated in 2009 following Operation Cast Lead, which led to approximately 75% of the Strip’s electricity demand being unsatisfied. As a result, over 1 million Palestinians were left without any power. Healthcare, water and sewage systems collapsed entirely and the shortage of industrial diesel exacerbated the impact of the attack by weakening the Strip’s ability to adjust to the new blows to its infrastructure. What is more, according to a report by the UN Economic and Social Council, the Palestinians are not only prevented from accessing- let alone utilizing- their natural resources, but such resources are actively exploited and thereby depleted by Israel in breach of international law.

Did you know that while your life depends on power, people in the Gaza strip today will get power for less than 12 hrs and have to power up the rest of the night by candles or diesel generators after the Israeli government targeted the sole power plant and imposed a blockade that has lasted for over seven years? Did you know that when the lights are out, Palestinians can see nearby Israeli-lit areas from inside Gaza city? Say NO for this inhumane treatment and boycott companies that power Israeli settlements.  Rafat Abushaban, grassroots activist, Gaza

On August 1, 2013 the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of a humanitarian disaster as a result of the Egyptian closure of Rafah crossing (the only point of connection for Gaza’s inhabitants with the outside world) and the ongoing Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Currently, power is being cut off for 10 hours daily, leading to a significant deterioration in the population’s living conditions.

Overall, the electric network in the Strip is supplied with 167 MW for a requirement of 300-350 MW.

Wood Group’s involvement

Bear in mind that just 10 miles from the border of the Gaza Strip is Ashkelon, which, following the agreement entered into by Wood Group and Dorad Energy, , is to be the home of a natural gas power station supplying 800 MW to Israel. Given the starkness of this contrast and in light of Wood Group’s ‘Social Responsibility Value’, one cannot help but wonder: what, if anything, is Wood Group doing to ‘make a positive difference’ to the people of Gaza?  And in ensuring its aforementioned contract with Israel, is the company not contributing to a policy of energy/electricity apartheid?

Electricity Crisis in Gaza – watch the video on Youtube