It’s not breaking news that Gaza is dangerously teetering toward a catastrophic water and electricity crisis. Since Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist organization that practices war crimes and crimes against humanity, seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Fatah, the main Palestinian National Authority party based in the West Bank, leading to a land and sea blockade by Israel.
The import of goods and services has become very difficult for Gaza’s people. Palestinians struggle in obtaining cement and other necessary building materials to aid Gaza’s inadequate public infrastructure because of Israel’s fear of the creation of more tunnels used by militants for terrorism.
“Gaza is hell,” 20-year-old Ahmad told a reporter from The Atlantic from one of the most destructed neighborhoods in Gaza City. “Gazans have Israel on one side, Hamas on the other, and here we are just eating shit,” he said. “People are only living because they are not dying. If death was nicer, we’d go for it.”
Disappointed and discouraged by Hamas leadership, they sit without jobs, relief or means of rebuilding, waiting for change. Hamas’ ongoing power will be the fundamental eroding of peace proceedings between Israelis and Palestinians.
In December 2016, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli Defense Forces coordinator of government activities in the Palestinian territories, sent a letter to several international bodies, including the United Nations envoy for the Middle East, regarding the peace process in the Middle East, calling for urgent action to prevent the situations for civilians from deteriorating further.
About 90 to 95 percent of Gaza’s water is not fit for drinking, with its only aquifer no longer serviceable due to overuse, and the area is also crippled by electricity blackouts. The blackouts have reached crisis levels, with hospitals warning that the frequent cuts endanger patients’ lives, while the rest of Gaza’s 2 million residents revert to an antiquated system of survival, including burning coal for heat and having access to only a few hours of electricity during the winter.
“Hamas, the militant organisation that governs the area, has contributed to the situation by disrupting the electricity supply to a new desalination plant operated by Unicef,” Mordechai wrote. “Instead of worrying about the welfare of residents, Hamas is harming them and making it difficult for the international organization that worked hard to supply drinking water.”
Instead of looking out for the good of its residents, the terror organization has chosen to send electricity to its terror tunnels and the homes of its leaders.
However, the position of Hamas is seemingly worsening. Egypt has destroyed most of the tunnels between Sinai and Gaza and halted the smuggling of weapons, goods and money. Arab donors are tired of Hamas and do not act on their financial obligations to Gaza. The general attitude toward Hamas in both the region and the world has changed significantly and the organization has become a lonely exile lacking funds and support.
It also seems as though Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian National Authority president, has been trying very hard to distance himself from Hamas. In one of his latest decisions, he ordered payment for Gaza’s electricity to stop. Though Israel finds itself in a dilemma when contemplating to totally cut off power to Gaza, which would allow a full-blown humanitarian and environmental crisis in addition to risking its national security, Israel continues to support Hamas with electricity, passively aiding the organization’s survival.
Strong economic pressure and the continued isolation of Hamas’ leadership by all parties, including the Arab world and Israel, could potentially force it into needed concessions. If control of border crossings is relinquished, an agreement of return by the Palestinian National Authority is made, Gaza will only then receive generous aid to allow restoration and success.
If Hamas does stay in power in Gaza, the peace process will inevitably remain jammed despite international or local efforts, and the merry-go-round of suffering, hostility and crisis will continue to spin around.
Dalya Panbehchi is a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience.