Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Egypt's Islamic Brotherhood pushes to open Gaza border but Mubarak elements block progress

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce, a shift that would transform life for Palestinians there but which is hitting resistance from Egyptian authorities reluctant to change a longstanding policy.

The biggest party in Egypt's new parliament, the Islamists are not yet in government but have been seeking ways to ease the impact of restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt on what passes in and out of the territory run by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Aiming to ease chronic power shortages in Gaza, the Brotherhood recently lobbied the Egyptian government to conclude a deal to supply fuel for the territory's sole power station.

However, the blackouts still plaguing Gaza several weeks after the deal was declared show that changing policy is easier said than done in Cairo, where government is still largely run by remnants of Hosni Mubarak's administration. more

Gaza inventor defies power outage with home-made electric system

Mahmoud Shaheen, a 55-year-old chemistry professor, started investigating the possibility of generating electricity at home a long time before the bombing of the generators.

“I started thinking of this experiment 21 years ago and at the time things were not really better than they are now because Gaza was under Israeli occupation and power outages used to happen a lot,” he told Al Arabiya

His idea was made possible when a Palestinian vendor brought electrical cells from Israel and did not know what to do with them. He took the cells from him and started experimenting with them until he managed to generate electricity.

“Since then my house has been fully lit and during blackouts it is the only house from which light comes in the middle of Jabalia.”

Shaheen, now known as the Conqueror of Darkness, explained that he did not use chemical reactions to generate electricity, but rather depended on solar energy.

“It is pretty simply. The sunlight that falls on the cells is converted to electrons that are transmitted through wires to batteries that keep the generated energy in them until it is used then charged again and so on.”

Shaheen pointed out that all the electric devices in his house are working at full capacity with a rate of energy conversion that amounts to 3,000 watts.

“This means that they are working properly all day and night.”

After seeing the success of his experiment, Shaheen added, several Gazans started inquiring about the possibility of using the same technology to face power outages.

“I started with the handicapped since they suffer a lot because of their inability to charge their electric wheelchairs. I have converted a large number of electric wheelchairs to work with solar energy.”

Shaheen said he wrote a proposal about applying his experiment to the entire Gaza Strip and submitted it to several international organizations for funding. more