Running on sunshine: Palestinian students build solar car to beat Israeli fuel blockade (VIDEO)
Israel’s continued blockade of Palestinian territory along the Gaza Strip has not only infringed on residents’ human rights, but also choked the area of essential resources such as fuel.
Authorities in Jerusalem control much of Palestine’s energy sources and supplies through its Israel Electric Corporation, as well as heavily restricting imports.
Two students from the Islamic Al Azhar University in the center of Gaza are seeking to swerve the energy limitations that have dogged the area for many years by creating a solar-powered vehicle on a shoestring budget.
Working with the institute’s Mechatronics Engineering Department, Khalid al-Bardawil and Jamal al-Miqaty have created a single-seater vehicle that runs off solar panels on its roof.
Indeed, fuel is often difficult to come by in Gaza.
The solar car prototype comes as Palestinians continue to suffer an energy crisis exacerbated by, according to the United Nations, an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza’s only power plant in 2006.
According the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Human Rights, last year the Gaza Strip only received 45 per cent of the electricity it needed to sustain its population.
Meanwhile, “severe fuel shortages” have left the Gaza Power Plant operating at scarcely half its capacity.
The power plant in Nusairat has also been forced to shut down numerous times, most recently in April this year after a tax dispute with Palestinian authorities.
In January, something as innocuous as cold weather even caused gas deliveries from Israel into the Palestinian-controlled areas to be cut by half.
The three-wheel solar-powered vehicle may only be able to reach a top speed of 18 mph, but the project is an innovative step in tackling restrictions on daily life in the Palestinian territories.
A statement by the Al Azhar University reveals the bright spark idea of a solar-powered car was inspired by the “chronic electricity deficit” and “diesel shortage” plaguing Gaza.
“Electricity [powered] motors are not available in our city and unfortunately nobody knows how to make them,” Al-Miqaty told reporters.
“So we had to [get] a motor and make a lot of changes to it, and these changes were not easy to make.”