Gaza Blackout Kills Infant After Respirator Runs Out of Fuel

Rolling Blackouts Continue Across Besieged Strip

Correction: Though the initial sources all reported that the five month old infant died the day of the story (March 25), later stories revealed that he actually died earlier in the month. The cause of death and other details are the same.

A month of ongoing rolling blackouts in the Gaza Strip claimed their first victim today, when a five-month-old infant died in Gaza City after the backup generator running his respirator ran out of fuel.

The baby, born with a serious lymphatic disorder, required the respirator to remove fluid from his lungs. No one in the strip is getting more than 12 hours of electricity a day, so his family had to rely on backup generators to keep him alive.

Blackouts are nothing new for the tiny enclave, but unlike the many past blackouts, usually the result of some political decision (or some random mishap) in Israel, no one seems to be able to explain why the fuel isn’t flowing to Gaza’s only power plant. Egypt is supposed to supply them, but they aren’t.

The why behind this has no ready answer, but the fuel stopped flowing almost immediately following the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, and has fueled much speculation that Fatah is using their influence to try to weaken Hamas ahead of the promised elections.

In the meantime, the average Gazan is seeing 12-18 hour rolling blackouts, and an emergency shipment of diesel from Israel quickly burned through is no sort of permanent solution for keeping the lights on, and the infants breathing, in the densely populated strip.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.