|A 2010 BBC website image of a previous Gaza fuel crisis|
As a result of totally unnecessary and tragic circumstances, three very young children of a Gazan Palestinian Arab family called Bashir died in their beds at some time in the past 24 hours. (The report is unclear as to exactly when, other than that their bodies were found on Sunday - yesterday.) The children aged 6, 5 and 2 lived with their parents in the town of Deir Balah, in the center of the coastal strip. A fourth child, a baby of six months, is badly burned and is being treated in an unspecified hospital.
Adham Abu Selmiya, the frequently-quoted spokesman for the Hamas-controlled emergency services authority in the Gaza Strip, said their deaths were caused by a candle being used due to lack of electricity in Gaza. "A fire broke out in the children's room," he said. "The candle was being used after the electricity was cut".
Was cut, is the phraseology. But why was it cut? Did the cuts fall from the sky? Is there a cause for these cuts?
Uninformed readers of the news will surely be thinking of those past reports blaming Israel for coldheartedly cutting off power to the teeming masses of Gaza. We are referring to such affairs as those reported by us here:
- 8-Aug-10: Mid East oil potentates look on as Gaza's sole power plant shuts down
- And here: 26-Jan-08: Humanitarian crises and dark manipulation.
- And here: 21-Jan-08: Electric wars - a sad tale of two realities
Instead of facing up to the blatant manipulation of Hamas, newsagencies throughout the civilized world swallowed the bait and published self-evidently dishonest news photos like the one below showing politicians sitting in the dark in Gaza:
|Closed curtains, plus the mindset of the people in this picture, keep the daylight from streaming in|
"They had closed the curtains in the rooms to create the impression that Hamas leaders were also suffering as a result of the power stoppage," one journalist told The Jerusalem Post. "It was obvious that the whole thing was staged. Another journalist said he and his colleagues were told to wait for a few minutes before entering the chamber of the Palestinian Legislative Council so that each legislator would have time to light his candle. He said that when he saw that the curtains had been closed to prevent the light from entering, he realized that Hamas was trying to manipulate the media for political gain."Not a single mainstream media channel reported what Abu Toameh said though the pictures of a phony blackout were everywhere at the time and may appear in the coming days again.
Now back to this week's reality.
The Gaza Strip's sole power station stopped operating a week ago, says Ynet. It ran out of fuel 48 hours after some 450,000 liters were delivered from Israel last week. The Red Cross said Thursday it is going to ship emergency supplies of fuel, but it's not clear that the incoming fuel will be used, because the cynical Hamas regime has much larger concerns than providing its people with energy. What is happening in the background is diabolical. There is a dispute between the new Moslem Brotherhood-influenced government in Egypt and Hamas. It's a dispute that is being described as
"the worst energy crisis here in years: Gazans are enduring 18-hour-a-day blackouts, fuel is running low for hospital backup generators, raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea for lack of treatment pumps and gas stations have shut down. The fuel and electricity shortages, which have escalated over the past two months, are infuriating long-suffering Gazans who say their basic needs, perhaps more than ever, are being sacrificed for politics... Ostensibly the spat revolves around fuel supplies from Egypt — but on a broader level, it is linked to Egypt's troubled relationship with Hamas and its long-standing deep ambivalence toward Gaza itself."The ins-and-outs of the dispute, this being the world of Arab brotherhood, include Egypt wanting to keep Gaza at arms' length. Egypt is said to be refusing to open a cargo route to Gaza but continues to turn a blind eye to the smuggling of fuel and other supplies through hundreds of under-the-border tunnels. Recall as you read this syndicated Associated Press story from Thursday that the one thing the Arab world has in incredible, almost obscene, abundance is oil:
"The fuel crisis has its origins in the decision by Hamas, more than a year ago, to use smuggled fuel to run the territory's only power plant instead of paying for more expensive fuel coming through an Israeli cargo crossing... Several weeks ago, the flow of smuggled Egyptian fuel began to slow: Egypt was itself suffering shortages, and it grew annoyed that Hamas was profiting by imposing tariffs on subsidized fuel meant for Egyptians. The Gaza power plant shut down on Feb. 10 and has been mostly offline since. Depots of fuel for transportation gradually ran low, and major gas stations in Gaza City closed several days ago. In recent days, no smuggled fuel has reached Gaza, traders say."The effects are very uncomfortable, and worse: danger to premature babies in hospital incubators, and to kidney patients on dialysis, to those in intensive care. Half of Gaza's ambulances are currently grounded. Most cars are off the streets. Crowds fight over the few public taxis. Owners of diesel cars have taken to pouring used cooking oil into their tanks. Water supplies have dropped sharply for a lack of fuel to pump it up from wells. Sewage is being discharged into the Mediterranean Sea because waste-treatment pumps are out of action. And so on and so on.
Of course, AP's story would not be AP if it did not end up blaming you-know-who:
"The circuitous arrangement makes the point that Israel bears responsibility for Gaza and not Egypt. "We propose Kerem Shalom, because with this, we stress that Gaza is still under Israeli responsibility," the [un-named] diplomat said. "If we accept what Hamas wants, we would absolve Israel of this responsibility."We're not sure the ordinary people of Gaza share that view. It's likely the masses don't give a hoot as to who provides them with fuel. They need power and services and they need them now. And as for the United Nations Human Rights Council, we doubt any citizens' delegations from Gaza are going to turn to them for help based on past performance.
And that's before we begin to try to think of the Hamas-created catastrophe that has engulfed Mr and Mrs Bashir and hundreds of thousands of Arab victims like them, victims of the hate-driven, tyrannical religious fanatics who rule them, in this ongoing war.