At the end of this month, Gaza and its nearly two million residents may lose their electricity, boosting the likelihood of more violence between Palestinians and Israel.
In late April, the Palestinian Authority decided it would no longer pay the bill for Gaza’s most reliable source of power, to the Israel Electric Company. The Authority, which governs the Palestinians living in the West Bank, cut off payments in an effort to undermine rival Palestinian group Hamas, which governs Gaza.
Gaza gets power from three sources: Israel, electric lines from Egypt which are unreliable and are currently out of service, and a power plant within Gaza that has run out of fuel.
The power situation is already a source of great tension in the strip, which is squeezed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean. Gaza already experiences rolling black-outs with power on for four hours, then off for 12.
Professor Mohammed Alashi, a professor of finance at Islamic University in Gaza, said that if things get worse, normal life will come to a stop.
“At the very least, you won’t be able to connect to the internet, you can’t complete your job, you can’t turn on your computer. Turning off the power is equal to turning off life” said Alashi, who nonetheless added that he doesn’t believe Israel will flip off the switch. “Israel is not in the mood to make or receive any kind of skirmishes on the border.”