FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gaza in the Dark

by ROBERT BRYCE

Israel is not content with its occupation and total military domination of Palestine. No, Israel has proven that it wants to assure the Palestinians continue to live in the most dire poverty, a poverty created by a near-total lack of affordable energy. That truth was made clear by the Israeli military’s recent bombing of the Gaza City power plant, the only electric power station inside Palestinian territory.

By using warplanes to launch nine missiles at the power plant ­ a facility with no military value — the Israelis have assured that the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have no electric generating capacity of their own. That’s not to say the power plant was huge. It wasn’t. The plant had a rated capacity of just 140 megawatts, far less than what the residents of Gaza need to be self-sufficient. But the plant wasn’t even operating at capacity. In fact, it had been producing just 70 megawatts of power due to poor management by the Palestinian authorities, who hadn’t built enough power lines to take all of the power the plant can generate.

By bombing the plant, the Israelis cut power to 65 percent of the Gaza Strip, a region that is one of the most impoverished in the Middle East. By destroying the plant, the Israelis also decimated one of Palestine’s most valuable companies, the Palestine Electric Company, whose shares are traded on the Palestine Stock Exchange. Further, the Israelis have destroyed any chance for industry in Gaza to grow.

It is axiomatic among the world’s economies: as electricity consumption increase, so does wealth. Gazans are impoverished, in large part, because they don’t have enough electricity. Residents in Gaza consume just 654 kilowatt hours of electricity per year ­ or about one-tenth of what Israelis consume. The average Israeli consumes about 6,183 kilowatt hours of power per year, a rate that places Israel 27th among the world’s countries in terms of power use. By comparison the residents of Gaza rank number 136 among the world’s countries in per capita power use, a status that places them behind residents of Peru. (For comparison, the U.S. per capita electric consumption is about 12,406 kilowatt hours per year.)

Further, each resident of Israel has some 1,600 watts of installed generating capacity. Before the bombing of the power plant, the Palestinians had just 35 watts of electric generating capacity per capita. Now, they have zero.

By destroying the power plant, the Israelis also destroyed any chance that Gaza will have sufficient water supplies any time soon. One of the original objectives of the $100 million power plant project, which was launched in the late 1990’s, thanks to encouragement from the Clinton Administration, was to connect it to a desalination plant. That desalination plant never got off the ground. Nor was the power plant able to begin operation after it was completed. The Al-Aqsa Intifada kept the plant shuttered for about two years after it was completed. The plant finally started operations in March of 2004, due mainly to the determination and financial commitment of the Athens-based construction giant CCC, which was founded several decades ago by Said Khoury, who was born in Safad, in northern Palestine.

When it comes to Gaza’s water supply, the only option is large-scale desalination. And that process requires huge amounts of energy. As Ishai Menuchin, a researcher for Oxfam who works in Jerusalem told me, when it comes to Palestine and Israel, “the issues of water and energy go hand-in-hand.”

In addition to providing fresh water, the Gaza power plant was supposed to be fired with natural gas ­ gas that was to come from Gaza Marine-1, a major gas field located a few miles off the Gaza coast that was discovered by BG in 1999. But the Israelis have prevented the Palestinians from building a pipeline that would have allowed them to use their own gas. Instead, the Gaza plant has had to use fuel oil imported from ­ where else? ­ Israel. The gas in the Gaza field remains untapped, making it one of the biggest stranded gas fields in the Middle East.

While Gaza remains stuck, the Israelis have begun operating one of the world’s largest desalination plants in Ashkelon, located on the Israelis coast just a few miles north of Gaza. The plant has a capacity of 100 million cubic meters (26.4 billion gallons) per year. The project, a joint venture between French water giant Vivendi and Israeli interests, includes a gas-fired power plant with 80 megawatts of capacity. The plant uses gas from an offshore field located in Israeli waters.

Last year, during a visit to Ramallah, Omar Kitanneh, the deputy minister of energy and natural resources for the Palestinian National Authority, told me that “Like any country, we want to have energy independence.” But the Palestinians will never have energy independence ­ nor will they have their own electric power plants — without the approval of the Israelis. And by bombing the Gaza power plant, the Israelis have made it clear that they intend to keep the Palestinians in the dark and in grinding poverty for as long as they please.

ROBERT BRYCE lives in Austin, Texas and managing editor of Energy Tribune. He is the author of Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate. He can be reached at: robert@robertbryce.com

 

 

Weekend Edition
May 06, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Wagner
When Liberals Run Out of Patience: the Impolite Exile of Seymour Hersh
John Stauber
Strange Bedfellows: the Bizarre Coalition of Kochs, Neocons and Democrats Allied Against Trump and His #FUvoters
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and the End of the Democratic Party
Joshua Frank
Afghanistan: Bombing the Land of the Snow Leopard
Bill Martin
Fear of Trump: Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism
Doug Johnson Hatlem
NYC Board of Elections Suspends 2nd Official, Delays Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders Results Certification
Carol Miller
Pretending the Democratic Party Platform Matters
Paul Street
Hey, Bernie, Leave Them Kids Alone
Tamara Pearson
Mexico Already Has a Giant Wall, and a Mining Company Helped to Build It
Paul Craig Roberts
Somnolent Europe, Russia, and China
Dave Lindorff
Bringing the Sanders ‘Revolution’ to Philly’s Streets
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Last Gasp Imperialism
Carmelo Ruiz
The New Wave of Repression in Puerto Rico
Jack Denton
Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”
Jeffrey St. Clair
David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books, the CounterPunch Connection
David Rosen
Poverty in America: the Deepening Crisis
Pepe Escobar
NATO on Trade, in Europe and Asia, is Doomed
Pete Dolack
Another Goodbye to Democracy if Transatlantic Partnership is Passed
Carla Blank
Prince: Pain and Dance
Josh Hoxie
American Tax Havens: Elites Don’t Have to go to Panama to Hide Their Money–They’ve Got Delaware
Gabriel Rockhill
Media Blackout on Nuit Debout
Barry Lando
Welcome to the Machine World: the Perfect Technological Storm
Hilary Goodfriend
The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again
Frank Stricker
Ready for the Coming Assault on Social Security? Five Things Paul Ryan and Friends Don’t Want You to Think About
Robert Gordon
Beyond the Wall: an In-Depth Look at U.S. Immigration Policy
Roger Annis
City at the Heart of the Alberta Tar Sands Burning to the Ground
Simon Jones
RISE: New Politics for a Tired Scotland
Rob Hager
After Indiana: Sanders Wins another Purple State, But Remains Lost in a Haze of Bad Strategy and Rigged Delegate Math
Howard Lisnoff
Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-war Hero With a Huge Blindspot
Adam Bartley
Australia-China Relations and the Politics of Canberra’s Submarine Deal
Nyla Ali Khan
The Complexity of the Kashmir Issue: “Conflict Can and Should be Handled Constructively
Ramzy Baroud
The Spirit of Nelson Mandela in Palestine: Is His Real Legacy Being Upheld?
Alli McCracken - Raed Jarrar
#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell
George Wuerthner
Working Wilderness and Other Code Words
Robert Koehler
Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz
Ron Jacobs
Psychedelic Rangers Extraordinaire
Missy Comley Beattie
It’s a Shit Show!
David Macaray
Our Best Weapon Is Being Systematically Eliminated
Colin Todhunter
Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save
Binoy Kampmark
The Trump Train Chugs Along
Cesar Chelala
A Lesson of Auschwitz
John Laforge
Dan Berrigan, 1921 – 2016: “We Haven’t Lost, Because We Haven’t Given Up.”
Norman Trabulsy Jr
John Denver and My 40th High School Reunion
Charles R. Larson
Being Gay in China, Circa 1987
David Yearsley
Skepticism, Irony, and Doubt: Williams on Bach
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail