I didn’t know before I came to Gaza how laptop batteries wear out. It turns out that laptop batteries wear down from the constant charge-discharge cycle. Massive power stations produce a relatively smooth flow of energy, as do very large generators. Smaller generators, rougher pulse. That rougher pulse destroys laptop batteries, one of the smallest—but very expensive, laptop batteries cost about 120 dollars—abrasions the constant occupation perpetrates on the people living here.

If you want to preserve your battery, you plug it in when you’re on grid power, and unplug it when you’re on generator power. The problem is when there is no grid power.

And for the last few weeks there has been very little grid power.Gisha statistics show that from June 13 to June 19, 741,000 liters of fuel were allowed in. From June 20 to June 26, 592,000 liters were allowed in. The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the humanitarian minimum is 2.2 million weekly liters, far less than the 3.4 million weekly liters that the Gaza Strip needs to fully fuel its sole electric plant, near Nuseirat Camp. Last week they left in 1/6th of the amount actually needed. Gaza was very dark for huge portions of the day. I have an itinerantly-on generator, but most of the population does not, and was in darkness amidst roiling heat for 14 or 16 hour stretches, far longer than the 8-to-10 hour rolling blackouts to which we’re all accustomed. Now, we are back to the “normalcy” of those long rolling blackouts.

According to the Palestine Center for Human Rights, the Israeli occupation forces let in 94,000 liters of industrial fuel on 30 June, and 230,000 liters more on 1 July.

Most of the blame for the severity of the fuel shortages during the last two months should be on the government in Ramallah, according to what I have heard from people from PCHR, who are in the process of revising their position paper on the current fuel crisis. The two governments in Ramallah and Gaza apparently have an arrangement wherein the Electricity Distribution Company in Gaza transfers at least 4 million dollars per month to the Energy Authority in Ramallah so as to contribute to the costs of the industrial fuel.

In turn the Energy Authority is supposed to provide the full quotient of fuel, or whatever Israeli bothers to let in, whatever Israel permits its own fuel company, Dor Alon, to sell to the PA. (Correct: Israelprofits off the fuel that it pumps into Gaza).

That quantity changes constantly. Part of this is because the Electricity Distribution Company in Gaza has trouble collecting fees, because no one in Gaza has any money. In turn the PA doesn’t transfer enough money to Dor Alon, and so it of course isn’t able to buy even the 2.2 million liters it is supposed to buy.

Gisha says:

Gisha asserts that as the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, it is incumbent upon Israelto provide for the regular supply of electricity to residents there. Even inasmuch as agreements were signed with the PA regarding that duty, Israel maintains a residual responsibility.

Gisha’s lawyers know the relevant case-law better than I do, but my understanding is that the duties incumbent upon occupying powers are positive ones, that is it Israel’s responsibility to make sure that enough power and diesel get in to Gaza. Gisha basically agrees but soft-peddles it a bit, adding that “for three and half years the EU took upon itself to fund the supply of industrial diesel for Gaza’s power plant and by doing so “fulfilled” the duties of Israel and the PA towards the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

Even though the EU was not obligated to do so, its undertaking created a dependence on EU funding,” another absurd instance of another parastate entity lubricating the occupation for Israel since exerting itself to end it is not on the agenda—not yet.

And now power is back to “normal” in Gaza, within the surreal parameters of normalcy that accept that Gaza City should be in darkness while Ashkelon shimmers at night nearly within eye-sight. And never forget who “accepts” those parameters.

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