2016 Activities

Ending the Electricity Crisis in Gaza: One Authority, One Law.. Neutralizing the Crisis from Political Polarization is the Only Resolve

Ending the Electricity Crisis in Gaza: One Authority, One Law.. Neutralizing the Crisis from Political Polarization is the Only Resolve

In its efforts to provide a complete and accurate file on causes of the electricity crises in Gaza as well as mechanisms to overcome it, the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability-AMAN held a discussion workshop on March 7, 2016, at the Red Crescent Headquarters (Haider Abd-ALshafi) in Gaza.  

Participants of the workshop included public, private, and civil society representatives, in addition to citizens who questioned related parties regarding the crisis. Representatives from the Energy Authority, the Gaza Electric Distribution company, the Power Plant, the Factional Committee on the Electricity Crisis, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights representing civil society attended the workshop.

Suggested solutions collide with the inability to receive supplies, and control of the Israeli occupation

According to the Vice President of the Energy Authority and the Head of the Electric Distribution Company in Gaza, Mr. Fathi Sheikh Khalil, the main reason for the electricity crisis is the lack of adequate amount of energy to meet the needs of residents of the Gaza Strip (GS).  In that regard, they pointed to previous efforts put forth in search of solutions by various parties during the past four years, indicating that the resolve lies in connecting with the Israeli electric company, and also in supplying the Power Plant with natural gas. 


Sheikh Khalil said that the Power Plant has the capacity to produce 140 mega, but the problem lies in the high cost of fuel needed to operate the generators, where its cost is more than three times the cost of regular fuel.  This is in addition to the prevalent culture among citizens who fail to pay their electric bills, although collection has improved somewhat. 

Regardless of the above mentioned, Sheikh Khalil emphasized Israel’s duty in providing the GS with needed electricity due to the fact that it is an occupying power, according to international law.  On a different note, he pointed to the failed plan, due to many obstacles and difficulties, to produce 100 solar mega, as proposed by the Qatari ambassador.

Calls for a united energy authority and application of the electricity law in the Gaza Strip

Director of the Power Plant, Engineer Rafeeq Maleeha, stated that the Power Plant is in charge of generating electricity and not in distributing it. He reminded participants that the plan was established to work with gas and not with industrial fuel as it does at the present time.  He reiterated that supplying fuel is not the duty of the Plant and it should not be held responsible for not providing it.  Maleeha added that all solutions suggested seek to retain the 8 hour schedule as a result of the steady increase in electricity needs.

On the other hand, Dr. Azmi Shuabi, Advisor to AMAN Board of Trustees on Combating Corruption emphasized the need to spare the average citizen from all electricity related issues (i.e., problems, complications, and technical discussions). He said it is important to remember that the Palestinian citizen living in the GS has the same right to receive electricity as his/her fellow citizen living in the West Bank (WB) and at the same cost.  He alluded to the seriousness of the political division in exasperating the electricity crisis. Dr. Shuaibi said that the solution starts by unifying the energy authority and in enforcing the Electricity Law in the GS. He said this is possible once the feuding parties agree to free the electricity service from all political polarization, as in the final secondary school examination (Tawjeehi) and the Pilgrimage to Mecca process (Haj).

He further stressed that in order for the neutralization of electricity (i.e., freeing it from the internal division issues) to succeed, consolidation of efforts to unify the energy authority and assisting it is mandatory; particularly in the collection process of consumed electricity.

High cost of fuel to generate electricity and weak collection rates…the citizen is the biggest loser

Mr. Jameel Muzher, Executive Committee Member/ Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and member of the Factional Committee for resolving the electricity crisis, agreed with Dr. Shuaibi on citizens’ need for electricity regardless of political and or technical problems.  He said it is the responsibility of those in charge to provide this vital service regardless of problems. Muzher stated that the proposed suggestions are long-term strategic solutions related to installing a gas pipe-line that would supply the Power Plant with needed fuel. This is linked to the expansion of the Power Plant to produce 260 mega in the first phase and 500 mega in its second phase. Direct solutions, however, are linked to retaining the 8 hour schedule, and also to the collection of the cost of electricity consumed by citizens, noting that presently only 20 million Shekels are collected, sufficient only for buying fuel (solar) and for covering administrative costs for the electric company.
Mr. Muzher stated that he had contacted the prime minister several times requesting that fuel used for the Power Plant be exempt from taxes. However, the bigger problem is that the cost of the needed fuel is much higher than regular fuel.

He informed participants that the Factional Committee hired a financial auditing company to examine the management and level of collection of electricity to ensure that no illegal practices are carried out in collecting and management of money collected for electricity. Audit results showed that the amount collected is only spent to cover related needs.

For his part, Mr. Khalil Shahin, Director of the Economic Committee at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, stated that the collection process is weak.  In addition, he said that the public sector is not committed to paying for electricity it uses, suggesting the establishment of a national factional committee to be tasked with control over this sector. 

All participants agreed on the following: the neutralization of electricity issues from political polarization and pressures, the importance of unifying the energy authority, and enforcing the Electricity Law in the GS.  All these issues, they said, do not concern the average citizen. The citizen is only concerned with having electricity at his/her home and or business, and that officials should assume their responsibilities towards citizens.

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