Gazans use solar power and e-sims to stay connected under siege

Palestinians find creative ways to charge phones amid power cuts in enclave

Khaled Al Shurafa runs a makeshift phone charging station in Gaza's Al Nuseirat camp. Photo: Osama Al Kahlout
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Palestinians have found creative ways to stay connected in the Gaza Strip, where electricity is unreliable or non-existent due to the continuing Israeli war in the enclave.

Israeli authorities cut off the electricity supply to Gaza in October after the outbreak of war following the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel.

In the overcrowded refugee camps across the enclave, Palestinians are using solar panels and e-sims to try to stay connected with loved ones during the war.

Khaled Al Shurafa, who runs a makeshift charging station in Al Nusseirat camp in central Gaza, purchased two solar panels and set them up on top of his car next to a table.

He then connected the panels with a converter to charge a large battery, which powers an array of phone chargers.

“As there is no source of electricity for people, I help them charge their phones to make calls or listen to the radio and charge their small batteries that can be connected to lights,” Mr Al Shurafa told The National.

Mona Al Hasomi, a child living in a tent next to Mr Al Shurafa, brought her mother's mobile phone and asked him to charge it to 50 per cent battery, paying him one Israeli shekel ($0.27). Mr Al Shurafa charges double for a full charge.

Thirty minutes later, she was able to return the phone with charge to her mother.

Another camp resident spoke to The National while waiting for his phone to charge so he could listen to the latest news.

“I only use the mobile now as a spotlight so we can light the tent or listen to the news by radio as there is no TV,” said Abed Al Rahman Darahma.

“Also, there is no phones network to make calls or internet to surf. I hope this suffering ends soon; we are fed up with the general situation."

The only way to connect to the internet in Gaza since the war is through e-sims, which are electronic versions of normal sims that connect to networks outside of the destroyed Gazan network.

Palestinians from the Al Nuseirat camp said that the signal is much stronger by the sea.

They gather by the sea in the coastal Al Zawayda area, holding their phones up in the air to boost their chances of getting a connection.

Many are seeking news from loved ones.

“I came to this area to contact my family who is still in Gaza, so I received their messages and sent messages to them, telling them about our news,” Ahmed Al Bittar told The National from Al Zawayda.

Mr Al Bittar fled to central Gaza from Gaza city, where the most intense ground fighting took place at the start of the war, but some of his family chose to stay behind.

“Most of the time, the connection is so weak, but what can we do? It is the only source of communication we have, as there are no phone networks,” he said.

Updated: January 23, 2024, 12:48 PM