FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Gaza in the Dark

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:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail