‘Che Guevara’ protests against Palestinian electricity problems

This video from Palestine says about itself:

‘Electricity cuts mean death!’: Thousands rally in Gaza over worst power shortage in years

13 January 2017

Thousands protest in Gaza over continious power outages.

From AFP news agency:

19 January 2017 – 07H39

Hamas halts electricity protests, but anger remains


by Mike Smith

The 25-year-old nicknamed Guevara because of his admiration for the Latin American revolutionary had returned to his home in Gaza after days of hiding, but was not giving up.

He had avoided home after a warning that Hamas security forces were looking for him due to his role as an organiser of recent protests over severe electricity shortages.

In a mock army jacket and with a Che Guevara-like beard, Mohammed Al-Taluli was being greeted by dozens of supporters from his neighbourhood of Jabalia, a crowded, overgrown refugee camp north of Gaza City.

“We are going to continue asking for our humanitarian demands,” he said while seated at a plastic table in a room in his home he called his office.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, has managed to end a recent series of protests over the electricity crisis with a security crackdown and aid from Qatar used to purchase more fuel.

But frustration in places like Jabalia remains, and there are once again warnings that deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian enclave of two million people may be leading to a larger eruption of anger.

Gazans face electricity shortages all year, but the problem is exacerbated in winter and mid-summer, when power usage spikes.

The Hamas authorities in the coastal enclave usually provide electricity in eight-hour intervals, but supply was reduced to four hours this month.

‘No security solution’

Protests began modestly, with dozens of people holding candles, before culminating on January 12 with thousands marching in Jabalia towards the electricity company.

Hamas security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, carried out arrests and hit an AFP photographer who required stitches to his face.

Further protests were prevented by a show of force by Hamas security.

Perhaps sensing the urgency, Hamas sought help, including from Turkey and Qatar, which agreed to donate $12 million for fuel purchases.

On Monday, Hamas said it was returning to eight-hour electricity — and was releasing all those arrested in connection with the protests.

A Gaza government spokesman argued that Jabalia protesters were attacking security forces and public buildings, but also said that Hamas was responding to demands by working to improve electricity supply.

“There is no security solution,” Salama Maroof told AFP.

Che Guevara admirer Taluli felt safe enough to return home after the announcement that those arrested would be released, but for him and others, the electricity shortages are only one in a series of frustrations.

Many young people feel trapped between Hamas’s strict rule and Israel’s blockade of the enclave, which has been in place for about a decade and prevents them from leaving.

Egypt’s border with Gaza has also remained largely closed, and unemployment is around 42 percent.

Three wars since 2008 between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have left behind death and destruction, not to mention psychological scars.

Even those with longtime businesses have suffered.

“I need electricity for more than eight hours to complete my work for the customers,” said 29-year-old Mohamed Abu Sharaf, whose family has had a print shop in Gaza City for 40 years.

As he spoke, the electricity cut again.

‘Strong message’

The reasons for the electricity shortages are multi-layered, with the first simply a lack of capacity.

Gaza has one power plant that runs on diesel fuel and which has been previously bombed by Israel.

It also imports electricity from Israel and Egypt, but it is not nearly enough.

Ageing power lines and theft add to the problem, with Gaza losing up to 20 percent of electricity that makes its way onto the grid, Maroof said.

The recent shortages were complicated by a dispute with the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank and dominated by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas‘s Fatah party.

Fatah and Hamas remain divided despite repeated attempts at reconciliation.

The Palestinian Authority handles fuel purchases from Israel since the Israeli authorities do not deal directly with Hamas, which they consider a terrorist organisation.

The PA then requires Hamas to reimburse it for bills and taxes, but Gaza’s electricity company faces cash shortages because many customers do not pay.

Maroof said the company should collect some $13 million per month, but only manages around $6 million.

He blamed it on poverty and simple reluctance to pay, while calling the PA’s taxes excessive.

Many Gaza residents are well aware of the complications, but have become fed up.

Those who know the situation well say Hamas must be seen as responding to their frustrations.

“This is for them a strong message that you can’t count on your stick or your gun to undermine the people and to silence the people,” Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas member and former government official, told AFP.

5 thoughts on “‘Che Guevara’ protests against Palestinian electricity problems

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  4. Ahed Tamimi is 16. She was ripped from her bed and taken to an Israeli prison where she’s being interrogated for hours on end. Tomorrow, her small family will march calling for her release — let’s join them and show millions of us around the world stand with Ahed. Avaaz will deliver our call at her court hearing on Monday.

    Dear friends,

    Imagine soldiers breaking into your home, ripping you from your bed as your mother begs them to let you go. They don’t. You’re taken to a prison where you endure terrifying interrogation tactics for hours on end.

    You’re 16. You think you’re a tough adult, and you act like one — but really you’re still a child.

    This just happened to Ahed Tamimi in Palestine — fiery Ahed who’s been an activist since she was 7 years old.

    Tomorrow, Ahed’s family will march calling for her release. We can’t join them physically, but we can show that millions of us around the world stand with her. Add your name to the open letter to free Ahed, and Avaaz will deliver our voices at her court hearing on Monday:

    Free Ahed and all Palestinian kids locked up by the occupation

    Ahed is not alone — thousands of kids have been through this same routine and are now locked up in Israeli cells. Most of them for the same purpose: protesting the occupation to protect their families and their homes.

    Ahed was targeted after a video went viral showing her slapping an Israeli soldier outside her home. This happened after her cousin was shot in the face by soldiers and taken to ICU. She’s seen them headlock and harass her little brother, and take away her village’s only water source. She’s seen a lot. Most of us would want to kick the soldiers off our doorsteps too.

    But no matter what we think of Ahed’s response, the charges against her are absurd — she could face 7 years in prison! She was an unarmed girl confronting armed soldiers who’ve taken everything away from her people. We can’t sit back and allow the Israeli courts to shave years off this girl’s life just for this incident.

    One way to help set Ahed free and protect thousands more children in Palestine is to make this letter massive. Add your name, and share this with everyone:

    Free Ahed and all Palestinian kids locked up by the occupation

    Some of us might not agree on the Israel/Palestine issue – but we can at least agree on one thing: kids who’ve been raised seeing their homes bulldozed before their eyes should not face years in prison for throwing rocks at armed soldiers who use live gunfire against them. Let us be the community that helps our leaders see this too.

    With hope,

    Fadi, Rewan, Mohammad, Alice and the entire Avaaz team

    More information:
    Palestinian teen activist could face years in prison after slapping an Israeli soldier (ABC News)

    Palestinian Ahed Tamimi arrested by Israeli forces (Al Jazeera)

    Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


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