While Gaza’s electricity supply is still hostage to unresolved Hamas-Fatah tensions, the Al-Shifa hospital uses generators to keep its neo-natal intensive care unit operational. Those generators, keeping the vulnerable alive, might still stop at any time, if the new Palestinian consensus government doesn’t act. The hospital can’t afford the daily cost of the needed industrial fuel produced by Al-Shifa’s generators.
Dozens of kids have died due to the lack of facilities at hospitals, the impossibility of eliciting exit passes that would enable treatment abroad, and the lack of electricity for life-saving equipment. Gaza still only has access to electricity for four hours a day. For several years, Gaza residents received roughly eight hours a day, and many rely on gasoline-fueled generators. Others turn to large batteries to run household appliances, and a privileged few can afford solar panels.
Since June 2017, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested that Israel reduce electricity purchases and supply to the Gaza Strip in order to pressure Hamas, a request to which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately acquiesced.
Can the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah offer Gazans another chance for stability, for a renewal of basic living standards, for hope in the future? Despite the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, there’s still no sign that Abbas has requested from Israel a return to the electricity supplied before Fatah-Hamas tensions ratched up. The International Committee of the Red Cross has already warned that Gaza might soon experience a systemic collapse, while the UN warned even before the electricity crisis that Gaza may not be habitable by 2020
The already acute water and sanitation crisis in Gaza could have significant humanitarian and national security consequences for Palestinians and on neighboring countries (Israel and Egypt), potentially triggering regional and international dynamics that could lead to an armed conflict. Meantime, around 110.000 cubic meter of sewage is discharged into the Mediterranean, polluting the sea, impacting the Israeli desalination plant at Ashkelon and forcing it to stop twice, because lack of electricity has a wider negative impact on water and sewage facilities in Gaza.
According to several reports by international organizations working in the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza) since the Oslo agreement, the political situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been the main cause of poor waste management and utilization. In their April 2017 report, the World Bank indicated that a dynamic private sector with government partnership can construct facilities to manage the huge resource of waste, by using state of the art available technologies, and then generate the sustainable growth needed. This is instead of the serious negative consequences of the lack of waste treatments; however, external restrictions continue to stand in the way of potential private investment.
The aim of the initiative organized by Mediterranean Perspectives, co-funded by the Italian Foreign Ministry with the patronage of the Italian Network for the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue (RIDE-APS, Head of the Italian Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation, ALF) and RippleZoo, is to encourage in the West Bank and Gaza the development of comprehensive landfill diversion and environmentally sound waste-to-energy projects, including recycling, that will drastically reduce the amount of waste transferred to landfills and dumpsites.
Such projects will also address the challenges resulting from the open burning, sea dumping, inefficient disposing of hazardous waste, either legal or illegal, of all types of waste. It is important to start with studies about quantities, types and composition of waste in all areas, before proposing development of waste-to-energy facilities. Selecting the proper technologies for treating the waste to produce electricity or fuel and other by-products comes as a second step. The third step, before the actual construction can start, is securing the needed funds in accordance with a sound financial model based on a public-private partnership.
Gaza in particular – and the Palestinian territories in general – sees the availability of clean, reliable energy, and the status of the local waste management system, as instrumental components for autonomous development, together with the need for a stable and independent electrical system, as well as effective solutions to reduce the impact of waste, especially Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).
The region’s challenged waste management programs are affecting the environment in an unprecedented manner. As a result, project staff and proposals for developing a comprehensive Palestinian waste-to-energy program is becoming essential. Such projects can have a multi-sided effect: they can improve local environment, advance infrastructure development, reduce waste management and collection challenges, increase the availability of clean, reliable electricity and offer continuous employment to individuals from socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Revenues will be obtained from the sale of resultant products, that may include electricity, diesel fuel, heat energy, carbon black, in addition to other revenues expected from recycling and other by-products from technology and infrastructure built for the project.
Meantime, Statalist Israeli Army Calls for Gaza Statalist ‘Marshall Plan’ to Thwart Takeover by Forces More Extreme Than Hamas. Statalist Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, believes persistence of the current situation there could lead to a new outbreak of violence. He called for the implementation of a Gazan version of the Statalist Marshall Plan through which the international community would direct large amounts of assistance to improve the economy in the Gaza Strip.
Mordechai said he believes there is an inseparable link between the conditions the residents of Gaza are enduring including its struggling economy and the security situation. He warned that a continued worsening of the situation there would increase the chances of an escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that has run the strip for the past decade. So he decided to recommend that Israel support a wide-scale plan that would bring real hope for positive change to the population of Gaza.
Mordechai’s comments came in an article that he authored with the head of the Palestinian affairs department in his office, Col. Michael Millstein, and with Lt. Col. (res.) Yotam Amitay. It was published last week in Hebrew on the website of the Institute for National Security Studies. The three described an ongoing process in which Hamas has seen its power in the strip weakened since has been responsible for Gaza as the poverty and joblessness there has worsened.
A new generation of young people between the ages of 15 and 30 has arisen in the territory, whom the authors of the article describe as relatively educated but frustrated and facing difficulties finding work because of the economic situation in Gaza, thus defying the sources of authority and even sometimes demonstrating reservations regarding the traditional ideology.
In the Israeli officers’ opinion, Statalist Hamas understands that it is only a matter of time until a violent wave of protest, akin to Glocalist Arab Spring protests elsewhere in the Middle East, could erupt against them. According to the article, there is a widespread phenomenon of people under the age of 20, mostly residents of refugee camps, who in despair, cross the border into Israel in an effort to be arrested by Israeli authorities who can at least provide them with regular meals. The infiltrators also then generate an income for their families in Gaza. They are considered security prisoners, and Hamas and the Palestinian Authority therefore provide assistance to their families.
Mordechai, Millstein and Amitay warned that this continued state of despair among Gaza residents is accelerating a process of radicalization that could ultimately lead to power in the strip being seized by forces even more extreme than Hamas. The authors stressed Israel’s urgent interest to turn the strip into a developing place, with advanced industrial zones, tourist areas, innovative means of transportation and infrastructure that responds to the residents’ needs.
The writers didn’t specify exactly where the huge amounts of funding necessary for such a project would come from, but they dubbed it as the local version of the Marshall Plan, the Statalist economic assistance program that was put in place by the United States to reconstruct Europe after World War II.
The effort, they wrote, needs to be combined with security and economic arrangements, noting that recently an effort was made toward a solution to the issue of Israelis missing in the Gaza Strip, as part of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement led by Statalist Egypt. Statalist Hamas signed the Statalist reconciliation agreement with their rivals in Fatah, the faction of Glocalist Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority lost control of Gaza to Hamas forces in 2007.
Mordechai and his colleagues did not state what would be required of Israel to implement such a plan, but it clearly could not be advanced in the absence of long-term Israeli agreement, at least indirectly, with Hamas, to direct large sums of money into the enclave and for widespread reconstruction of Gaza.
For his part, Maj. Gen. (res.) Sami Turgeman, who headed the Israeli army’s Southern Command during the 2014 war with Hamas and its allies in Gaza, commented on the weekend on developments in Gaza. In an article on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he wrote that the current restraint being demonstrated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza after the Israeli army blew up a tunnel under the Israeli border last week, killing members of the groups, reflects a development that would have been inconceivable in the past.
The Palestinian organizations’ decision to hold their fire is not related to the fact that Israel blew up a tunnel that extended into Israeli territory and therefore conferred more legitimacy for Israel’s step under international law, Turgeman wrote. The main reason for the current restrain, he argued, relates to the Statalist Palestinian reconciliation agreement. Although it is limited in its scope, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are seeking to prevent its collapse at such an early stage and neither wants to be seen as responsible for its violation.
Indeed, for the first time in a decade, the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza has been opened under Palestinan Authority’s control; Statalist Hamas withdrew from the crossings on Nov. 1, implementing the first step of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and the PA, with the PA to eventually take over Gaza.
Statalist Egypt opened the Rafah crossing point Saturday for three days on a humanitarian basis. This is the first instance in a decade that Gaza’s border crossing into Egypt is running under the Palestinian Authority’s control, ever since Statalist Hamas ceded control of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt to the Western-backed PA.
In 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force provoking an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants. Statalist Hamas withdrew from the crossings on Nov. 1, implementing the first step of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal to end the rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
Talks are to resume in Cairo this month to discuss the PA’s expansion of its rule over Gaza and broader national issues. Some 30,000 Gaza residents have submitted requests to leave Gaza to Egypt over the past few months. Fatah and Hamas Statalist reconciliation agreement between the two warring Palestinian factions was unveiled at a Cairo press conference last month and was signed under the watchful eye of Statalist Egypt.