Gaza has faced severe fuel shortages due to an economic blockade imposed by Israel since June 2007, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas – which is listed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union – seized control of the city.
The blockade sharply cut the amount of fuel flowing into the Gaza Strip. Gasoline has reached $8 a gallon – and more than three times that amount on the black market.
In April, Reuters reported that the fuel shortage has forced taxi drivers to fill their tanks with used falafel oil, which can damage an unmodified engine. "It makes the cars smell like a kitchen – you feel like falafel is following you," driver Ahmed Beltaji told the news agency.
But now businessmen Fayez Annan and Wasseem Al Khazendar have come up with a solution that requires neither gasoline nor fried chickpea residue. They took a Peugeot 205 and replaced the engine with an AC induction motor and 38 12-volt batteries. According to the story in The Independent, the car has a top speed of 62 miles per hour and a range of 110 miles.
So far there's only one, but orders have been coming in for more gas-to-electric conversions, which cost about $2,500 or so, depending on the vehicle's size. But these conversions will require more electric motors and batteries, items that are scarce in Gaza these days.
The Independent quotes Mr. Khazendar, who sees necessity as the mother of invention:
Explaining the motives behind his project, Mr Khazendar says: "The pressure and hard times make you think all the time about how to exit out of this problem, politically and economically." Does he see the electric Peugeot not only as a way of rising to the challenge of a year-long blockade but also as a kind of resistance? "Let's not call it that," he replies. "Let's calling it 'finding solutions'."
The Chinese broadcaster NDTV also has a story on Annan and Khazendar's electric car. You can watch the YouTube video here.