Jabalia: Palestinians in Gaza, who live in one of the poorest regions of the Middle East and face the region’s highest fuel costs, are burning plastic to make affordable diesel. It’s an economical and practical solution to the Zionist blockade of his 15-year blockade, but one that poses serious environmental and health risks, experts say.
Standing in front of rusty metal machinery and fuel canisters, Mahmoud Al-Qafarneh explained how he and his brother came up with the plastic recycling project. “I searched the internet and started an experiment to implement the project in 2018,” he told AFP at a site in the Jabalia region of northern Gaza. Later, we successfully extracted the fuel.” The distillation setup features a series of crude-looking tanks and connecting pipes set on top of the soil.
The process begins by burning wood in a furnace below a large mud-covered tank that holds up to 1.5 tons (tonnes) of shredded plastic. As the plastic melts, the steam flows through pipes into a water tank where it cools and drips into a container as fuel, ready to be sold. Black-grey smoke billows from multiple pipes that extend above the furnace and the tank that holds the plastic.
Very few workers wear face masks and gloves while melting shredded plastic bags. Their clothes are dyed black. Kafarneh said no one has experienced any health problems since they started working at the location, which is located by the olive trees and away from homes. follow,” he said. But Ahmed Hillis, director of the Gaza National Institute for Environment and Development, fears the environmental damage caused by this unregulated industry.
“The methods used are rudimentary and very harmful to workers,” he told AFP. According to the United Nations Environment Program, burning plastic releases dioxins, mercury and other toxic gases that “pose a threat to vegetation, human and animal health.” Hillis adds another hazard of burning plastics derived from petroleum hydrocarbons. He says the tank is a “time bomb because it can explode” with heat. Economic realities outweigh health risks in Gaza, where at least 49 of his Palestinians died during his three days earlier this month in gunfights between Palestinians and Zionists.
Kafarneh, 25, said the ideal would be to upgrade the kit to a safer, electrically powered tank. “But not available because of the Zionist blockade,” he said. Since 2007, when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, the Zionists have severely restricted the flow of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave of 2.3 million people. The territory is getting poorer and poorer. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate he reached 47% and the average daily wage is about 60 shekels ($18).
Zionist-supplied gasoline rose by up to 8 shekels ($2.40) per liter in Gaza after the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent global fuel prices skyrocketing. This has led to a surge in demand for fuel in Cafalune, with fishermen and farmers becoming top customers. At Gaza City port, Abd Al-Muti Al-Habil uses a hose to fill the tanks of a fishing boat. “We use this diesel because it costs half the cost of the Zionist equivalent,” he said. “There are no disadvantages. Same quality, no impact on the motor, running efficiently.”
Habil’s only problem is a shortage of supply, with about 10 boats now using recycled plastic diesel. “Unfortunately we don’t have enough. I get him only 500 liters (132 gallons) every two days,” he said. Havill’s boat is at sea and in 12 hours he consumes 900 liters (237 gallons) of fuel, which is an unmanageable amount when he relies solely on imported fuel. A tankful of plastic would allow him to produce 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of fuel every 12 to 14 hours, but Cafarne’s team said he had to wait eight hours for the equipment to cool before restarting the process. must be Production volume also depends on the availability of raw materials. At a sorting facility near the distillery, six men comb towering piles of baskets, bowls, buckets and other plastic waste.
“We get our plastic from workers who collect it from the streets. We buy it from them, then separate it and grind it in a special machine,” said Imad Hamed. rice field. Since the crusher relies on electricity, it is frequently interrupted by Gaza’s chronic blackouts, Hamed said. “Sometimes I have to work at night to make sure the electricity is available,” he said. – AFP