School children in the besieged Gaza Strip have staged a demonstration in front of the house of Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, blaming him for the ongoing power crisis in the coastal enclave.
During the protest rally, which was held on Sunday, demonstrators chanted slogans against Abbas and some even burned posters with his picture. “Abbas is partially responsible for the electricity crisis that we are in right now. We can’t study in the dark. I don’t understand why Mahmoud Abbas is doing this to us,” a Palestinian student said. Palestinians in the tiny coastal enclave have been living on an average of six hours of electricity per day for nearly forty days after Gaza’s sole power generating plant was forced to shut down due to fuel shortage. In recent days, several homes in Gaza caught fire due to blazes caused by candles. The blaze left a number of children wounded. Students are expected to suffer tremendously in the coming days as they start their mid-year exams amid long hours of power outages and the cold winter nights. The protestors also demanded the immediate lifting of the blockade imposed by Israel on the enclave, calling on Egypt to provide Gaza with electricity. “Instead of providing electricity to us, Egypt has been threatening Gaza. We are unable to study for our exams and it is really hard to spend our time in the dark. This is really harmful for our future,” another student said. Israel imposed an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade on Gaza in June 2007. The siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished enclave, having turned the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison. In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region. The destruction of the tunnels has reportedly led to an increase in the price of fuel and other commodities in the coastal territory. The Palestinian Authority is responsible for providing fuel to a power plant that used to generate about thirty percent of Gaza’s electricity needs while the rest is purchased from Israel and Egypt. Officials from Hamas movement that controls the strip say the plant will remain shut until fuel supplies resume from Egypt through the tunnels or the Rafah border crossing, or from Israel if the Palestinian Authority agrees not to impose the heavy taxes.