Hamas thwarts a greener Gaza

Hamas thwarts a greener Gaza

Matt recently described the possibility of a green coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis south of Jerusalem. Israel is shipping their cleantech expertise to their neighbors, thereby fostering good relations and a more sustainable future.
On the other side of the sliver that is Israel, the green situation is slightly more complicated. While it would seem that the Israeli blockade is the sole reason for Gaza’s fledgling eco-enterprise, it turns out, says Theodore May, that Hamas is responsible for pushing it down.
Gaza’s ‘green’ innovators
Writing for Global Post, May introduces two courageous innovators whose inventions could have improved the lives of many of Gaza’s residents.
Maher Youssef Abou Tawahina runs a hardware store with his father. After waiting in line for hours to purchase cooking gas, or worse, finding it all sold out, the father and son team created their own cooking apparatus.
They developed a solar oven that heats up within five minutes.
“The oven is not quite hot enough for baking bread,” according to Abou Tawahina, “but it’s perfect for roasting chicken.”
Such was the enthusiasm for the cooker that the pair built 30 ovens for their fellows, until the insulating glass that was used as the stove’s ceiling ran out.
Fed up with high prices
Further up the road in Gaza City, Waseem El Khazendar became fed up with the high fuel prices that made it too expensive to even drive his car. An engineer, he painstakingly developed an electric Peugeot that sent ripples throughout the community and could have been a source of inspiration.
But the car, along with the family’s factory in the Northern end of Gaza, were both blown up when Hamas and Israel began fighting.
“Mr. Khazendar, whose green innovation became a casualty of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, isn’t sure he’ll build a new electric car, saying that he’s too devastated by the loss of the last one,” wrote May.
A green Gaza looks too independent
“The policy of Hamas is to show we are not developing,” said Fouad El-Harazin, a Palestinian-American who founded the National Research Center, an organization in Gaza that is trying to find the funding and supplies to kick start a solar energy project here.
Harazin, among others, said that a green Gaza could mean an independent Gaza. But while Israeli border restrictions make importing solar energy equipment difficult, it is Hamas that is actively working against green energy projects here.
“Hamas will say, ‘Why did you do that? Do you want to show we have good development? Take it down!’” Harazin said.
Ultimately, though, a testament to people’s extraordinary resilience, life will go on whether the blockade is lifted or not. That is because all worthwhile inventions have arisen from necessity.
“Because you need it, you do it,” Khazendar said. “If I do it, many people can do it.”

(Stories from The Green Prophet blog appear here by agreement with its editor, Karin Kloosterman. For more Green news from the Middle East, visit The Green Prophet at greenprophet.com. Contact the Green Prophet at karin.kloosterman@gmail.com.)