July 12, 2016

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Turkish governmental delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning in order to discuss the electricity crisis in the blockaded Palestinian coastal enclave, official Palestinian sources said.

The Turkish news agency Anadolu quoted Gaza Foreign Affairs Ministry Undersecretary Ghazi Hamad as saying that a Turkish delegation headed by the country’s ambassador to the PA arrived in Gaza via the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Sources in the Palestinian civil liaison office told Ma’an that the delegation included Turkey’s minister of energy along with eight other officials.

Earlier this month, Turkey normalized its diplomatic relations with Israel, ending a six-year standoff sparked by the 2010 Israeli attack on a Turkish aid ship attempting to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip which resulted in the death of ten Turkish activists.

While Turkey notably conceded on its demand that Israel lift its near decade-long blockade on the Gaza Strip, Israel did agree to allow Turkey to deliver aid, with the stipulation that deliveries pass through the Ashdod port, to then continue to Gaza through land crossings. The first such aid ship arrived earlier this month.

The besieged Palestinian enclave has experienced severe electricity shortages in past months, exacerbating already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

The densely populated Gaza strip requires an estimated 380 megawatts of electricity to adequately supply its population of 1.9 million. However, Gaza currently receives only 200 megawatts from Gaza’s sole power plant, as well as Egyptian and Israeli grids.

Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs. The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel’s crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave.

War has also taken its toll, and during Israel’s 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel’s blockade.