The Gaza Strip is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster as its only power plant is expected to run out of fuel within hours, leaving the territory without electricity after Israel cut off supplies. The Israeli blockade has also prevented the entry of food, medicine and other essential goods into the besieged enclave, where more than 800 Palestinians have been killed in five days of relentless airstrikes by Israel.
The power plant, which provides about half of Gaza’s electricity, has been operating on a reduced capacity since Israel stopped the transfer of fuel on Sunday, following a surprise attack by Hamas that killed over 900 Israelis and took dozens of captives. The plant relies on diesel fuel imported from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which has been closed since Monday.
An official from the Gaza Energy Authority said the plant would shut down completely by Wednesday afternoon, plunging Gaza into darkness and affecting all basic life services, including water supply, sewage treatment, health care and communications. He said there was no alternative source of fuel for the plant or for the generators that many Palestinians use to cope with the chronic power shortages.
The lack of electricity will also hamper the efforts of rescue workers and medical staff to reach and treat the wounded and retrieve the bodies from under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombs. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, at least 830 Palestinians, including 260 children, have been killed and more than 5,000 injured since Saturday. The ministry said it was running out of medical supplies and equipment, and appealed for urgent international assistance.
The war has also sparked fears of a regional escalation, as Israel has exchanged fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria in recent days.