Countdown to Hospital Blackouts in Gaza

A blackout looms for hospitals in the Gaza Strip, where reserve fuel for generators has been estimated at only enough to provide electricity for the next 48 to 72 hours, the Times of Israel reported on Thursday.

The critical fuel shortage was made even worse when a technical malfunction shut down a power line between Egypt and Gaza that was supplying over six hours of electricity a day.

The two million inhabitants of Gaza currently must get by on just four hours of electricity, followed by 12-hour blackouts, down from two eight-hour periods of electricity a day when fuel is flowing normally from outside the enclave.

On Sunday, Gaza officials announced that they were unable to pay full price for fuel that is trucked into the Strip, citing a haulage tax that raises the price from NIS 1.08 ($0.29) per liter to NIS 5.08 ($1.39) per liter.

On Wednesday, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on Palestinian leaders to put aside their political differences to address the problem.

Mladenov warned that “the social, economic and political consequences of this impending energy crisis should not be underestimated. Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures.”