Mideast: Egyptian diesel finished, Gaza dark and cold

Hamas unsure who to ask for help, 1 mln citizens in trouble

13 February, 11:10

(ANSAmed) - GAZA, FEBRUARY 13 - More than a million Palestinians were last night plunged into darkness in the Gaza Strip, with the last reserves of Egyptian diesel from the only local electric power station about to run out. The "lucky ones" are those who live in the far south and north of the Gaza Strip, areas that remain connected to the Israeli electrical network, and the city of Rafah, in the far south, which continues to receive electricity from across the border in Egypt. For everyone else, there is no alternative but to make use of the deafening family generators. In the centre of Gaza, nearby shop-owners are connected to the same generators to keep at least their shop signs running. But in the major streets, the relentless mechanic whirring of the engines frightens off the few clients in the area, who are forced to cover their ears with their hands. With petrol pumps now dry for the last couple of days, the streets have gradually emptied. Small crowds have gathered along the pavements, waiting (sometimes for hours) for any means of transport that can take them towards their homes. Group taxis are very rare and quickly snapped up.

As night fell, complete darkness fell on a number of areas of Gaza City, demoralising children. This was accompanied by bitter cold. So as not to spend the night in the open, the only option, as it was two centuries ago, is coal. During the day, electrical current was rationed in towns around the Gaza Strip. Some households enjoyed electricity for eight hours, others for just two. With no more television or Internet, the population of Gaza has again gone back in time. Mosques, at least, have seen a growing influx in worshippers, who at least are confident of finding some semblance of human warmth. The crisis had been on the horizon for some time, not least because trouble in the Sinai had led to the suspension of Egyptian supplies. Electricity is also said to be rationed in the Egyptian Sinai. Continuing hostility between Hamas and Israel means that the possibility of asking the Jewish state for assistance has been ruled out. Some say that Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian National Authority (PNA) could attempt to find a solution together with Egypt. In future, for instance, Egyptian natural gas, which in other times was exported to Israel and Jordan, could also be sent on to Gaza. But the earliest benefits would only be felt in six to eight months. In the meantime, the population has no option but to huddle under the blankets and wait for a new day of cold, paralysis and discomfort.(ANSAmed).

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