Constant fuel shortages and insufficient infrastructure have brought about a "humanitarian crisis" for Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the World Bank said yesterday.
In a report ahead of an international donor conference next week, it said that foreign aid alone cannot rescue the stagnant Palestinian economy without practical changes and Israeli cooperation.
Gaza's sole electricity plant frequently runs out of fuel for its generators and rations power supplies to as little as four hours per day.
"During summer and winter peaks the scarce electricity supply is increasingly rationed to four hours during daytime," the report quotes the bank's West Bank and Gaza director Marina Wes as saying.
"Recently, this situation has become the norm leaving Gazans without electricity during most of the day. This has created a humanitarian crisis for Gaza's 2 million people."
The Hamas movement seized power in Gaza in 2007 from the Ramallah-based Fatah organization of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. It imports diesel for the generators through Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA), but the rivals are in constant dispute over payment, leading to constant shortages. The Palestinian Authority informed Israel yesterday that it will no longer pay for electricity for the Gaza Strip starting immediately.
Gaza has suffered through increasing hardship since the Hamas takeover, which triggered a border blockade by Israel and Egypt. Gazans have endured power cuts, with electricity now available for only six hours a day. The shortages hit hospitals, clinics, water supply and other vital services, as well as household needs, she said. Protests broke out in January over the power cuts, which the Gaza health ministry warned could have "dangerous consequences" for patients.