Gaza has been through a huge number of catastrophic events in recent years. The most recent problem has been a shortage of fuel, which has been particularly damaging because this is occurring during the cold winter months.
Because of the embargo, Gaza receives limited supplies of petrol, gas, and electricity – never enough to meet everyone’s daily needs. Without enough gas, electricity and petrol, daily tasks such as cooking, running your car and keeping warm are incredibly difficult. This is placing a huge burden on families throughout Gaza.
Winter in Gaza: Fuel shortages meet colder weather
In Gaza, gas is usually imported from Egypt and Israel. However, not only are supplies dependent on the political situation, but also the weather. The cold days of winter are making it difficult to deliver gas to the Strip as it’s harder to supply gas in its liquid form. This is because the gas freezes more quickly and the pipelines are not equipped to hold solid gas.
In addition, electricity supplies also come from Israel, Egypt and one power station located in the middle of the Gaza Strip. But they do not supply enough electricity for all citizens. The electricity supply is only connected for eight hours during the day. What makes the problem worse is that the only power station that generates electricity depends on supplies of industrial fuel (gasoline), which are also in short supply.
Sadly, life has been greatly affected by these current fuel shortages. Even more sadly, this is not a one-off scenario. Gaza has been receiving limited supplies of fuel since the start of the blockade back in 2007. It’s now rare in Gaza that you can enter your home, switch on the lights and enjoy your evening watching TV. Everything depends on fuel and there’s just not enough of it.
With no permanent heating facilities in houses, everyone invents their own way of heating their homes during the winter. As there is no gas infrastructure or pipes installed in local homes to provide houses with gas, people rely upon gas cylinders to heat their homes and feed their families warm winter meals. My father builds a log fire almost every day, but I use a gas heater because I live in a flat and can’t build a fire indoors.
Just recently, I sent one of the cylinders I use in the house to be refilled but the supplier told me it could take a month to be refilled. Of course, some people can cope for a little while without gas, but others cannot. Sick and older people are particularly vulnerable to the cold.
The shortage of gas and electricity supplies affect not only local families, like mine, but also hospitals, schools and factories. In short, it affects all aspect of life. And this is particularly bad in hospitals, where fuel shortages can mean the difference between life and death.
There are patients who are connected to heart monitor devices and out-patients who go for dialysis three times a week and they depend on electricity to keep them alive. Backup generators sometimes stop, putting hundreds of lives at risk. Heartbeat monitors, ventilators and other equipment cannot work when this happens. Unfortunately, there is still no solution to this problem on the horizon.
Flooding: Restricting access to fuel
Now, as temperatures in winter have dropped, it’s also been raining heavily. Over the last few weeks, some areas have been flooded and this too is hindering daily life.
In the past, there have been lots of incidents where whole neighbourhoods were flooded and people could not leave their homes. They had to be evacuated by rescue teams using boats and diving equipment.
With the current flooding, authorities are now finding it hard to provide services to residents. They can’t run water pumps all of the time as pumps depend on fuel, which is in short supply. Cars and trucks are parked in the streets because they lack fuel, so they can’t be used to help rescue people.
Nothing comes easily in Gaza. Everything is connected. The ongoing conflict is affecting the lives of thousands of people and times are really hard. However, people keep their faith and look to Allah (SWT) for hope, praising Him for everything they do have.
People will not stop gathering around the fire during winter times, creating positive memories with their loved ones. They stand strong, ready to face any challenge. They carry on hoping that things will change for the better, and soon. Without hope, there is nothing.