Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
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

 

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail