By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA - Lengthy power cuts in the Gaza Strip have melted stocks of ice cream, forcing shops to stop selling it just when a heatwave has boosted demand.
With summer temperatures hitting 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit), ice cream is a popular and relatively inexpensive treat in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people squeezed into a narrow coastal strip between Israel and Egypt.
But owners of several groceries said they had to stop selling it even as a particularly hot summer has increased demand.
"Half of the ice cream melted. What should we do with it? Losses, losses," supermarket owner, Fouad Awadallah told Reuters.
Gaza would normally require around 500 megawatts of power per day during the summer months of June, July and August, local officials said. It receives 120 megawatts from Israel while the enclave's single power plant supplies another 60 megawatts.
The shortfall means residents have only around 11 hours of electricity per day and even that is intermittent.
At the Kazem Ice Cream shop, one of the territory's best known, owner Mohammad Abu Shaban, said he had to use expensive generators to keep the business going.
"I can't switch off the generators even for a minute once the electricity goes," he said.
Saly Abu El-Haj, 25, travelled 13 kilometres (8 miles) from her Nusseirat refugee camp for a taste of Kazem's ice cream in Gaza City centre because other shops had stopped selling it.
"If you want to buy something cheaper from a supermarket, you won't find it as owners are afraid ice cream would be wasted once the electricity is off," she said.