Gaza’s only power station has stopped working after the fuel needed for generating electricity ran out on Wednesday, Gaza officials said.
“Gaza is currently without power,” the head of the Gaza power authority, Galal Ismail, told CNN.
The power plant’s shutdown comes two days after the Israeli government said it would order a “complete siege” of the Palestinian enclave, closing off access to electricity, food, fuel and water in response to the surprise attack launched by Hamas on Israel that killed at least 1,200 people.
People in Gaza still use power generators for electricity, but with a blockade on all sides of the border, the fuel needed for generators to work is running out, Ismail said.
The Palestinian health ministry warned that hospitals are set to run out of fuel on Thursday, leading to “catastrophic” conditions.
The Hamas-controlled coastal enclave has been hammered by Israeli airstrikes that have killed 1,055 people and wounded 5,184 others, according to the health ministry. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says it is targeting Hamas terrorists, but the dense population of Gaza – 2 million people living in 140 square miles – means that civilians are often caught in the crossfire.
The result has been a humanitarian crisis that has displaced more than 236,000 Gazans, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). That number is expected to rise further.
At least 11 employees working with the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have been killed in Gaza airstrikes since Saturday, according to the agency.
“Citizens need protection,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesdau, adding “we want to see a humanitarian corridor.”
Israel also seems to have removed some of its previous guardrails on its rules of engagement meant to protect civilians. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Tuesday that he had “released all restraints” on the IDF in their fight against Hamas.
Further Palestinian casualties are feared as Israel maintains its bombardment for a fifth day and the “complete siege” ordered by Gallant on Monday takes effect.
Dozens of Israeli fighter jets struck more than 70 targets in the Daraja Tuffah area of Gaza Wednesday, where the IDF claimed “a large number of terror attacks against Israel are directed.” The IDF also said it had struck Hamas naval targets in Gaza early Wednesday, which it claimed were used to carry out attacks on the Israeli coastline.
The Palestinian Ministry of Interior Affairs said residential areas in the eastern part of Jabalia and the Qizan al-Najjar region of Khan Yunis had come under intense airstrikes, with attacks targeting civilians’ homes and roads, resulting in “direct injuries among citizens,” the ministry said.
OCHA said that imposition of sieges that endanger civilians by depriving them of essential goods “is prohibited under international humanitarian law.”
“These risks (are) seriously compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate, especially in light of the increasing number of injured people,” spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said Tuesday.
Cutting off the water supply to Gaza “affects over 610,000 people and will result in severe shortage of drinking water,” UN OCHA’s Jens Laerke added.
Destruction of infrastructure and streets by Israeli bombs is also hampering efforts by medical teams to reach victims, according to the UN.
Officials with the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said 11 of its employees had died as a result of airstrikes on Gaza and at least 14 of their facilities there have been damaged directly or indirectly.
The agency has been unable to bring any aid into Gaza since Saturday, according to UNRWA director of communications Juliette Touma.
Israel controls the movement of residents from Gaza into Israel through two crossings, Erez and Kerem Shalom, both of which have been shut.
The only border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was struck by Israeli warplanes Tuesday, the spokesperson for the Palestinian Interior Ministry Eyad al-Bozom said. The tightly controlled Rafah crossing is the only one available to Gazans looking to flee.
The IDF said it struck the Rafah area Tuesday, including an underground tunnel used for “smuggling weapons and equipment.”
CNN’s Eyad Kourdi, Amir Tal, Abeer Salman, Celine Alkhaldi and Helen Regan contributed to this report.