Gazans reel under heat, lengthy power cuts
'The fan is broken, the battery is not working, we are fanning ourselves with trays'
Palestinians living in the crowded Gaza Strip are suffering from a searing summer heatwave, made worse by power cuts that leave them without electricity for up to 10 hours a day.
"The fan is broken, the battery is not working, we are fanning ourselves with trays," said Alaa Zidan, a Gazan resident of the southern zone of Khan Younis.
"We can't eat or sleep because of the heat," she said.
More than 2.3 million people are packed into the narrow strip of land squeezed between Egypt and Israel, an area that would normally require around 500 megawatts of power per day during the summer months, according to local officials.
However, the Palestinian enclave only receives 120 megawatts from Israel while its lone power plant supplies another 60 megawatts.
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Mohammad Thabit, of Gaza’s power distribution center, said in April – during a time of moderate weather – they could supply 20 hours of electricity per day.
But the capacity of the power generating plant was impacted by greater demand due to high temperatures and soaring energy prices.
"We are currently unable to feed more than 10 hours of electricity per day to people and public institutions, which would have a direct impact on all aspects of life in Gaza," Thabit told Reuters.
The power shortages continue to generate discontent with the ruling Hamas, which blames the devastation of Gaza's economy on a 15-year-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade - a response to the Islamist group ousting forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who for his part refused to hand over power of the Palestinian territories after losing to Hamas in elections.