GAZA CITY – Decorating their food dishes with candles, Gazans prepare their Ramadan iftar meal after long hot fasting hours in darkness due to daily electricity outage.
"We cannot run fans because the power has been cut,” construction worker Abu Khaled Abu Arab told Bernama news agency on Monday, July 30.
“There are no signs of life here.”
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The 1.6 million Gazans lose their electricity for one third of their days during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Gaza's precarious energy supply is bad at the best of times, with a rickety infrastructure system badly degraded during a deadly Israeli onslaught in 2008.
Israel's bombardment of Gaza's power plant destroyed six transformers and at present, only one transformer is operating at a much-reduced capacity.
The situation has been made worse as Ramadan, which started on July 20, came in the summer long hot days.
Living in a stuffy dwelling in the Shatii refugee camp, home to 65,000 refugees, Abu Khaled and his five children need to have their Ramadan iftar quickly before sitting outside their homes.
At least, he finds fresh air outside his modest home to escape the scorching heat inside his two-room-shack.
“During the Iftar time, we have to wipe off our sweat, instead of enjoying the food,” Abu Khaled said.
Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar.
Muslims in Ramadan, except for the sick and those traveling, refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
Sense of Torture
As everything turns quiet at Iftar and Sahur (pre-dawn meal) times, the piercing sounds of mobile generators are heard in almost every town and camp.
Yet, with expensive prices of rare fuel, many Gazans could not run their generators.
“Fuel is very expensive now,” Abu Khaled, 43, said.
“I need to save money to satisfy the basic demands of my family," he said, referring to the fuel crisis in the narrow enclave.
Fuel prices are double what they were last year.
The fuel crisis escalated when Egypt decided to reduce the amount of fuel brought to Gaza.
The intolerable heat inside the houses located in densely-populated areas encouraged hundreds of thousands to come to a spot in the vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea, off the Gaza coast, where families have erected tents.
Israel has clamped a severe blockade on Gaza since Hamas was voted to power in Gaza in 2006 and the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas in a cross-border raid.
The siege was further tightened after Hamas assumed full control of the strip in 2007.
The crippling siege has badly worsened livelihood in the impoverished seaside strip.
The situation further deteriorated after Israel launched a three-week deadly offensive in late 2008, killing more than 1,400 people and injured thousands and left the strip in tatters.
The siege leaves most Gazans cut off from the outside world and struggling with desperate poverty.
For most Gazans, the beach is the only limited privilege they have in their area where all life is controlled by the Israeli occupation.
At sunset, Sayed Murad started to prepare his Iftar along with his family.
With no power available at his home, a daily pilgrimage for his family to the beach is necessary to break the hot scorching weather at homes.
“Having Iftar on the beach is much better than home," said Sayed's eldest son, Ahmed, 12.“At home, we feel a sense of torture because we have no power, no light and no fan.”
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