Gaza’s sole operational power plant has run out of fuel and shut down, the area’s energy authority said Wednesday, days after Israel said it would block supplies including fuel, food, and water from entering the enclave.
“The only power plant in the Gaza Strip stopped functioning at 2:00 pm (0700 EST),” Jalal Ismail, the head of the authority said, after an earlier warning that the plant was running short of fuel.
Israel’s extended blockade leaves Gaza’s population of 2.3 million — half of whom are children — and vital services, such as hospitals, with little to no electricity.
At least 1,200 people in Israel, and at least 1,000 people in Gaza have been killed since a brutal surprise attack by Hamas prompted Israel’s intensified retaliation in Gaza, CNN reports, citing Israeli and Palestinian officials.
The only option Gazans are left with is to rely on private generators to power homes and other buildings — but not all people have access to these machines and soon, they will run out of fuel too. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a surgeon in Gaza, told Sky News that his hospital is now running on diesel generators, but once diesel supplies run out, intensive care, operating rooms, and other medical units will no longer be operational.
More than 260,000 Gazans have been displaced and have no way to leave the besieged area, amid fears of a possible ground invasion by Israel. Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned civilians to evacuate the enclave “because we will operate forcefully everywhere,” but the Israeli government has shut down Gaza’s only pedestrian pathway into the country, and Rafah, the sole crossing point between Gaza and Egypt which the Egyptian Red Crescent has used to send supplies into the territory, has been battered by Israeli strikes and forced to close. Egypt is concerned that without a safe passage out of Gaza, there will be a mass exodus into its Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported.
The current conflict echoes the summer of 1982, when Israel, with U.S. backing, purged the Palestinian Liberation Organization from southern Lebanon. It was “Israel’s first large-scale ground war against a non-state entity,” Kim Ghattas, a Middle East analyst, writes for the Financial Times. Now, the U.S.’s involvement goes beyond being Israel’s ally, Ghattas writes, and Washington should “heed the warning signs of 1982.” Attempts to overthrow Palestinian armed groups “has only produced more extreme iterations and worse conundrums.” And at a time when the U.S. is backing Ukraine, while attempting to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the danger lies in how global alliances and “strategic blunders” will prolong violence, she argues.