UN envoy on Gaza: 'We are walking into another crisis with our eyes wide open'
Mladenov in part attributed the crisis to the “intra-Palestinian political tug-of-war” that has deepened tensions between Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, who have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas' election victory in 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip.
“The result is a significant worsening of the humanitarian crisis which risks exploding into another conflict that can only begin to be resolved by compromise, by the implementation of intra-Palestinian agreements and an ending of the closures,” Mladenov said.
He also underscored the “unprecedented” energy crisis in the besieged enclave, which has left the majority of residents in Gaza with only four hours of electricity per day since April.
Gaza’s sole power plant, which provides Gaza with 30 percent of its fuel, shut down in April after running out of fuel provided by Qatar and Turkey, with Gaza’s electricity officials claiming that they have been unable to purchase electricity from the Palestinian Authority (PA) owing to the taxes levied on fuel entering the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the power lines from Egypt that supply electricity to the southern Gaza Strip are often out of operation due to technical issues.
As noted by Mladenov, Israeli power lines, which typically provide the Gaza Strip with about 60 percent of its electricity, is now the only reliable power source feeding the impoverished territory.
However, according to reports this week, Israeli authorities have decided to reduce electricity to Gaza, reportedly at the request of the PA. The PA, which foots Gaza’s 40 million shekel ($11,187,021) monthly bill from Israel, allegedly requested that the Israeli government reduce the supply to 25-30 million shekels per month.
“If implemented, this decision will further reduce electricity supply to Gaza by some 30 percent, plunging its population into a spiral of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Mladenov emphasized.
According to Mladenov, hospitals in the besieged enclave have had to postpone surgeries, while reducing “80 per cent of cleaning, catering and sterilization services.”
“Had it not been for the timely UN humanitarian intervention on April 27 to provide emergency fuel for generators some 51 surgical and obstetric operation theaters, five hemodialysis centers and a number of emergency departments would have had to close,” he added.
Desalination plants have also only been functioning at 15 percent of their capacity, according to Mladenov, while clean drinking water is only supplied every few days for just few hours.
“The price will be paid by poor Palestinians, by women and children, by people already traumatized by conflict, who have been held hostage for a decade now. They are the ones who will not have access to electricity, to water, to health services and sanitation,” Mladenov said.