"I have lost a total of $1000 US dollars since the power supply has been cut, the number of my customers has decreased to minimum, I stay idle at my shop for long hours, what shall I do?" asked Alaa’ Salahat, a local seller of frozen foods from the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Maghazi, as he spoke to me about his experience, sitting in the darkness, with only a kerosene lamp shining off the worried lines in his face. Why such darkness? Because three weeks ago, Israeli aircrafts bombarded the sole Gaza power plant.
"This is really a very terrible situation, we are civilians, what does Israel want, this is really a collective punishment against an entire people", said Alaa’, 31.
"When I get back home each day having earned only a few Shekels (Israeli currency – ~5 shekels = $1 US) in my pocket, I rush to find candles to light the house for my wife. We stay idle, until our turn for electricity current comes. This ‘luxury’ happens no more than three nights a week", he continued.
"This is a really unbearable situation, that no body on this earth can tolerate. What do the Israelis want us to do, to die, to give up or what? However, we are steadfast. You know why we are steadfast?", Alaa’ asked earnestly, looking past the candle into my eyes, "Because we know we have the same right to exist as the Israelis. These are our ancestors’ lands, and we will remain living here – even if it is difficult, even if we don’t want to stay. Because this. is. our. land." At this last sentence, Alaa’ emphasized each word, to make sure I understood what he meant.
In the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, where the same problem exists, a Palestinian mother, Taraji Qdaih, 32, said, "For a very long time, we have been calling on the world to help us get rid of the Israeli occupation, but all our appeals fall on deaf ears. The Israelis are committing massacres; from the girl Huda Ghalia’s family massacred on Beit Lahia beach a few weeks ago, to the missiles fired at us from the air by night and day. And there is no any condemnation from the world at all, yet when an Israeli soldier has been held, all the countries want to intervene to free him without any concessions. We are always the ones blamed, we are always the ones blamed."
Visiting the ruins of what used to be the sole Gaza power plant brings to light the reality of Israeli shelling. Dr. Derar Abu Sasi, the plant’s Operations Director said to me, as I visited him in his wrecked office at the base of the plant, "We only have one power plant in Gaza. Now that Israel has destroyed it, we can’t produce a single Megawatt, or even a Kilowatt for our customers. The Israeli bombs destroyed all four main transformers, the only transformers that feed Gaza residents with electricity."
Israeli warplanes have been bombarding and destroying major infrastructure in the Gaza Strip such as governmental buildings for three weeks straight – the latest was the foreign affairs ministry, hit early in the morning of Monday, July 17, for the second time in a week. Water treatment plants and greenhouses, bridges and homes, have also been the major targets of Israeli bombs in ‘Operation Summer Rains’, the code name for the Israeli military invasion of Gaza that began June 27.
Israeli leaders claim that their actions across Gaza are intended at freeing an Israeli soldier, who has been held by some Palestinian resistance groups there, for the past three weeks, after he was captured in an unprecedented resistance attack on an Israeli army base south of Gaza Strip.
The United States, Israel’s strategic ally, has considered Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza Strip as ‘self defense’, while the death toll amongst Palestinians since then has risen to nearly 100, with over 300 others wounded, some of them are very critical, some of them having lost limbs or having been paralyzed for life. In contrast, one Israeli soldier died in the Gaza invasion, and although Israeli forces at first blamed Palestinian resistance fighters, they later determined that the soldier had been shot by ‘friendly fire’.