Mass protests on Gaza's borders over electricity crisis

Palestinians in besieged Gaza Strip protest at borders with Israel as rights groups warn of growing humanitarian crisis.

| | Middle East, Palestine

Hundreds of Palestinians protested on Friday along Gaza's borders with Israel, as international rights groups warned of a "total collapse" of basic services amid a steadily worsening electricity crisis.

The Gaza Strip is in the middle of an electricity shortage that has left its two million residents with just a few hours of power a day, turning many aspects of everyday life in the Hamas-governed territory upside down and raising concerns about of a looming humanitarian crisis.

Earlier this week, Israel reduced the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza to about three hours a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut electricity funding to the Israeli-besieged territory.

The move was widely seen as a move by Abbas to step up pressure on the rival Hamas movement.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Robert Piper, warned the additional power cuts would have a disastrous effect.

This reduced supply, combined with peak demand during the Ramadan holiday season, has created rolling blackouts that give people just two to four hours of power at a time.

Residents must plan food purchases daily, as proper refrigeration is impossible. Hospitals are running on generators and fuel is in short supply.

They must carefully plan daily tasks, such as doing the laundry or taking a shower, for when they expect to have power, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night. Many homes use electric water pumps, so no electricity also means no water.

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