The Gaza Siege: A Fact Sheet
Palestine Center Brief No. 203 (3 June 2010)
This originally appeared as an article in

Gaza fact sheet image

Policy Brief

By Yousef Munayyer

In recent days, coverage of the attack on the aid flotilla headed to Gaza has danced around the many pressing issues of the siege, and has limited its focus to merely the lack of availability of certain humanitarian goods. This fact sheet is a brief reference for informed discussion of the siege and its effect on the population of Gaza.

Electricity – The siege has led to a significant lack of power in the Gaza Strip. In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity (down to producing 80 megawatts maximum1 from 140 megawatts), forcing Gaza into total dependence on outside power supply. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the daily electricity deficit has increased since January of 2010 with the plant only able to operate one turbine producing only 30 megawatts compared to its previous average of 60-65 megawatts in 2009.2,3 This effectively gives Israel control over Gaza’s “light-switch,” meaning they can turn off the lights whenever they see fit. The lack of electricity has led to reliance on generators, many of which have exploded from overwork, killing and maiming civilians. Oxfam reported that “[in 2009], a total of 75 Palestinians died from ca rbon monoxide gas poisoning or fires from generators, and 15 died and 27 people were injured in the first two months of this year.”4

Water – Amnesty International reports 90-95 percent5 of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The lack of sufficient sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s coastal aquifer – the main source of water for the people of Gaza. In October of 2009, Amnesty International reported, “Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.”

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The Palestine Center is an independent think-tank committed to communicating reliable and objective information about the Palestinian political experience to American policy makers, journalists, students and the general public. Established in 1991, it is the educational program of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development.

The Palestine Center brings together people and resources within the American and Palestinian communities to educate about Palestine and the Palestinian people’s ongoing quest for sovereignty on their land, civil and political rights and an end to Israeli occupation. The need for an organization such as The Palestine Center can be found in the effects of the economic, cultural and political oppression Palestinians have endured and which continues on a daily basis in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the surrounding refugee camps and for Palestinians world-wide as they struggle to retain their homeland.

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