Supplying Gaza with fuel is a complex matter. Various political complications have arisen, and electricity blackouts in Gaza are imminent.
Egypt Independent has:
”The Gaza Strip’s sole electricity station has become inoperative because Egypt has begun to crack down on fuel smuggling activities through their shared border, a Palestinian energy official in Gaza said Tuesday.”
From Palestinian News Agency Ma’an:
“Meanwhile, the director of Gaza’s only power plant Walid Saad Sayil said Wednesday that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority’s delay in payments for fuel contributed to the crisis, as well as failures by the energy authority and company in Gaza.”
Gaza Energy Authority official Ahmed Abul Amreen held a press conference during which he made various statements about the cause of this crisis, adding, apparently with no particular reason, that “he holds Israel responsible.” Jon Donnison picked that up.
Normally Israel supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts per day, some comes from Gaza’s small power plant and some is brought unofficially from Egypt using underground tunnels.
According to EOZ
“Israel is providing exactly the same amount of electricity to Gaza it always has.[…] “Palestinians” instructed the Israelis not to provide the Strip with heavy-duty diesel because they could get the fuel – reportedly cheaper – from Egypt.”
Jon Donnison’s report is unclear and muddled. It is framed as though Israel’s blockade has brought about a crisis in which “The strip would soon be “swimming in a sea of darkness”.
The Egyptian and the Palestinian news agencies appear to be more realistic about the situation than Donnison, who sees everything through a haze of Israelophobia
Since writing this piece I have had more time to look at it.
I’ve been comparing Jon Donnison’s report with other reporting of the imminent power shortage in Gaza to see whether Donnison’s is significantly more slanted against Israel than the others.
From the plethora of reports on this topic I decided to confine my comparison to aunews, ABC News, Yahoo and France 24 because I thought it reasonable to assume BBC editors had read the contents, since they were the news organisations in web links provided by the BBC.
Three of these contain sections copied and pasted from each other’s material, (this is normal practice, and I think the original copy probably comes from A/P or reuters.)
For example ABC News, mnnews.com.au, and France 24 start with the paragraph beginning: “Gaza’s sole power plant has ground to a halt” Quoting Ahmad Abu al-Amrin, an official from Gaza’s energy authority. They expand thus:
“The Gaza power plant has completely stopped working because of the shortage of fuel entering the Gaza Strip, and the depletion of diesel it needs to work,” said Ahmad Abu al-Amrin, an official from Gaza’s energy authority.
He called on Egypt “to assume its historical responsibility in supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people by ensuring they had all the necessary fuel to operate the plant”.
According to the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, (UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) the amount of fuel being transported through the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza has dropped by half over the last fortnight, reportedly due to increased restrictions on the movement of fuel by the Egyptian police.
“Only half of the amount of fuel that entered in the previous weeks has been coming into Gaza for the past two weeks,” OCHA said in its weekly report.
“Unconfirmed reports indicate that the reason for this sharp decline is an increase in fuel prices triggered by movement restrictions imposed by the Egyptian police on fuel cargoes travelling to Rafah.”
They continue with identical quotes from Ismail Haniya, calling on Cairo to
“immediately intervene and meet all the electricity needs of Gaza in a permanent way” (See? even the Hamas leader isn’t blaming Israel here) All three continue with heart-rending descriptions of the suffering the shortages will cause.
Towards the end France 24 and AU News insert the obligatory:
“Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 following the capture of one of its soldiers in June of that year.
The blockade was tightened a year later following Hamas’s forcible takeover of the territory, and Israel began restricting the amounts of fuel allowed through the crossings.”
But they add this ‘mitigating’ paragraph:
“To cope with the situation, Palestinians gradually developed tunnel infrastructure allowing the transfer of large quantities of fuel into Gaza, at a cheaper price, which resulted in an almost complete halt in the purchase from Israel,” OCHA said.
Gaza’s main power plant has closed down on several occasions in the past because of fuel shortages.”
Yahoo hasn’t used so much ‘cut and paste,’ but its report contains roughly the same information, with an additional relevant paragraph.
“Abu Al-Amrain said Israel bore overall responsibility for the ongoing crisis, but Mustafa Ibrahim, a human rights researcher and writer, said Hamas’s administration had failed to provide the territory with an energy safety net.
“(The Energy Authority) made everything depend on fuel smuggled through the tunnels, without having any guarantees that this flow could continue. The current severe crisis is evidence that this was the wrong approach,” he said.
And Yahoo’s heart-rending paragraph:
The sound of generators roared in Gazan streets as businesses tried to keep the lights on, but the PCHR warned that the power cuts could have serious consequences. “The current crisis may impact access … to vital services,
including the supply of drinking water,” it said in a statement.
Gaza’s precarious energy supply is bad at the best of times, with a rickety infrastructure system badly degraded during fighting between Israel and Hamas over the past five years.
Israel maintains a blockade by land, air and sea on Gaza to prevent weapons and material with potential military use from reaching Hamas, which is committed to destroying the Jewish state.
The editor is given credit: ” (Editing by Crispian Balmer)” Hats off to you Crispian!
One does wonder if Donnison is lazy stupid or disingenuous.
As far as I can tell, Jon Donnison’s report owes more to earlier BBC reports than to the aforementioned group.
For example, in January 2008 “Gaza City plunged into Darkness”
“Cars were still driving along Gaza City’s darkened streets
The only power plant in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has shut down because of a lack of fuel, Palestinian officials say, blaming Israeli restrictions.”
At that time they turned to John Ging, notorious for disseminating anti-Israel propaganda whenever the slightest opportunity presented itself, for their heart-rending plea.
In November 2008 they were at it again. Gaza power cut blamed on blockade.
This time the shortage was blamed on Israel’s blockade because they couldn’t receive parts for the power plant, despite Israel supplying 60% of Gaza’s fuel, and the power plant providing 32% at the time as per the BBC.
“Israel closed the crossings after a rocket was fired at Israel late on Monday.
In the past, Israeli officials have accused Hamas of cynically exaggerating the impact of border closures to garner sympathy, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Jerusalem. But the United Nations relief agency in Gaza (Unrwa) has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis unless the crossings are opened.”
(Probably John Ging again)
In March 2010 the BBC website boasted a slideshow of 10 images of various people in Gaza with generators and various people in Gaza who need generators, photographs kindly supplied by Karl Schrembi of Oxfam.
Jon Donnison’s article reads like a series of disconnected and emotive sentences. He could have copied and pasted from non BBC material and still been lazy, but he would have looked less stupid and less disingenuous if he had at least tried to appear less biased.