Monday, October 27, 2014

27-Oct-14: In Gaza, the electricity is flowing again no it's not yes it is

A Gulf State newspaper published this picture in March 2014 with
a caption saying it show a Gaza City power station
shut down "due to a lack of fuel from Israel", without explaining
that "lack of fuel" in Gazan real-politik is almost invariably
self-inflicted by the Hamas regime for political advantage [Image Source]
Remember how Gaza's only power station was "destroyed" by you-know-who in July 2014? (Here's The Guardian's report from then.)

Reuters ["Gaza power plant resumes operations, director says"] this afternoon reports on something that borders on a miracle (but is not):
Gaza's only power plant has resumed operation far sooner than expected after being damaged during last summer's war between Israel and Palestinian militants. Rafiq Maliha, general director of the facility, told Reuters its generators went back online on Sunday, producing 90 megawatts out of a total potential capacity of 140 MW. The plant provides power to around half of Gaza's 1.8 million people. The Gaza Company for Generating Electricity, which operates the plant, said an Israeli tank shell hit the main fuel tanks during the war, taking out almost all capacity. It originally estimated that repairs could take as long a year.
So we can say bye-bye to reports (and photos) of Palestinian Arab Gazans struggling to live lives devoid of electric power, right? Not so much.
Maliha said the plant could be switched off again on Tuesday unless more fuel is supplied by the Palestinian Energy Authority. At peak demand, the Gaza Strip needs around 280 MW of power. Beyond what is produced locally, Israel supplies around 120 MW by electricity lines and Egypt around 17 MW, meaning there is always a shortage. Most Gaza residents have had to adapt to six hours of electricity a day since the plant stopped. Sources at the company said they expected rolling blackouts to continue, with power going on and off every eight hours.
We took a look at this more than two years ago ["2-Apr-12: More darkness in and from Hamas-controlled Gaza, and this time the price is paid in the silent, unnoticed deaths of children"]. We said then news reports from Gaza falsely depicted Israel cold-heartedly cutting off power to Gaza's teeming masses. The claims were not new; we referred to several earlier posts along similar lines:
We added numerous more posts after that, including these
These posts from the past reflect an absurd situation where Hamas, true masters of darkness, inflict power shortages on their own people through calculated manipulation of energy supplies including deliberately firing on the Israeli power station in Ashkelon that used to deliver some 70% of their electricity. 

The truth of the bizarre situation was that even as the terrorist gunmen and rocket-firers of Gaza, under Hamas inspiration and control, were trying to bring the Ashkelon plant to its knees, Israeli power workers inside the Ashkelon plant continued to work round the clock supplying electricity to the Gazans even while they were under constant Qassam fire.  At the simple human level, this is a non-trivial point. The head of the Israel Electric Corporation workers' committee chairman, Miko Zarfati, said it as plainly as you would want back at the time (here, in 2008, and in our post , but (and this can be checked) his words were barely quoted anywhere.

This is shocking. Instead of facing up to the blatant manipulation of Hamas, news-agencies 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:

It is indeed deeply dark inside Gaza's political quarters, but only when you first close
the curtains in the middle of the day [Image Source: Reuters]
Hamas, let's say it clearly, has the capacity to produce enough electric power to ensure Gazans do not lack. But it's not a priority for them - quite the contrary. In 2012 [source], Gaza's power outages were
due to a deliberate policy of Hamas, which opposes import of fuel from Israel. As a result, the Gaza power station is operating at 20% capacity
Today's Reuters report (above) says they are generating "90 megawatts out of a total potential capacity of 140 MW". Why? And why are they not challenged on this by the expert reporters who cover the Gaza beat? Could it be that keeping people in the dark is more popular than we might have thought?

One final thought: the creation of electric generation, transmission and distribution capabilities is one of the core functions that every population needs and that government is supposed to provide either directly or by empowering an independent supplier. That's part of the ABC of running a country. Since the Hamas regime has the financial backing of Qatar, and it's known that in the Arab world in general, oil (to fuel those generators) is a commodity not exactly in short supply, we can understand why they want to blame Israel with whom they see themselves as being in a perpetual war. 

But is there a government anywhere that slips out from under public scrutiny of its own failures more often and more successfully than Hamas? Who is really in the dark? Perhaps some enterprising MSM reporters might want to theorize.

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