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Necessity is mother of invention: ‘Gaza’s Newton' brightens darkness of shelters with wind energy

Palestinian teen Hussam al-Attar has literally brought light to a displacement shelter in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after he and his family fled from the ongoing Israeli offensive on the enclave. 

The fifteen-year-old, nicknamed “Gaza's Newton,” uses old wind turbines to generate electricity.

“The displaced people inside the camp nicknamed me ‘Gaza's Newton,’ appreciating my role in lighting it up,” Al-Attar told Anadolu.

“After 20 days of our displacement to Rafah and the electricity being cut off and no available source of energy to illuminate the tents of displacement, I thought of creating a windmill to illuminate the darkness of the camp,” he said.​​​​​​​ 

Since the destructive war against Gaza began Oct. 7, Israel has cut off water, electricity and fuel to 2.3 million Palestinians suffering from extremely dire conditions due to a 17-year blockade.

After international pressure, Israel allowed very limited humanitarian aid into Gaza, including fuel for humanitarian needs but not for electricity, through the Rafah crossing -- designated for individuals.

“I thought of how to illuminate the place, so I brought a fan and installed it to convert the kinetic energy from the wind force into electrical energy,” Al-Attar said while inspecting his project in the camp near the border with Egypt.

His initial attempts to light the camp failed and it took three attempts and time for the idea to succeed.

The turbines used by the teen to generate power are mounted on one of the metal poles inside the camp.​​​​​​​

“I managed to light up the place intermittently, as the place lights up when there is wind, and when the wind slows down, darkness prevails in the camp,” he said.

Rafah is one of the most densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, after the Israeli army forced Palestinians from the northern, central, and southern areas of the enclave to flee there, where about 1.4 million Palestinians reside, according to a previous statement by Rafah municipality's Mayor Ahmed al-Soufi.

Al-Attar hopes to obtain supplies to develop the project, especially batteries, that will allow him to store energy and use it during times when there is no wind.

He said Rafah markets lack the batteries for the project, but he insists on continuing to develop the project even if the operating period is limited to times with strong winds.

“I directly connected the electrical installations until the rest of the supplies and batteries are available to complete the project and have the ability to store electricity,” he said.

Al-Attar noted that before the outbreak of the war, he was able to invent an underwater light and a safety zipper for a wireless door closure, in addition to a fan to cool the hot summer atmosphere.

Since Oct. 7, Israel has been waging a devastating onslaught on the Gaza Strip, causing thousands of civilian fatalities, mostly children and women, as well as an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe and massive infrastructure destruction.

Israel’s onslaught has led Tel Aviv to appear before the International Court of Justice on charges of "genocide."

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