[News] Israel implements illegal cuts to Gaza's power supply

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 20 14:01:18 EDT 2017


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-implements-illegal-cuts-gazas-power-supply 



  Israel implements illegal cuts to Gaza's power supply

Charlotte Silver 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/charlotte-silver> 19 June 2017

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Israel reduced its supply of electricity to the occupied Gaza Strip on 
Monday morning, in spite of warnings from human rights groups that the 
move violates international law.

The cuts come despite dire 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/gaza-brink-systemic-collapse-icrc-warns> 
warnings 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/catastrophe-looms-gaza> 
in recent weeks from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 
World Health Organization and UN officials that the induced electricity 
shortage is causing a humanitarian catastrophe, as essential health, 
water and sanitation facilities cannot function.

In mid-May, the ICRC declared that Gaza was on the brink of “systemic 
collapse.”

Israel plans to eventually reduce its electricity supply to Gaza by 40 
percent, according to a plan approved 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/catastrophe-looms-gaza> 
by its cabinet earlier this month.

On Monday, Israel reduced the power supply by about seven percent, which 
will result in 45 minutes less 
<http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.796645> 
electricity to Gaza households.

Electricity for most of the two million Palestinians in Gaza is already 
available for no more than about three or four hours each day.

If the Israeli cuts are fully implemented, Gaza’s population will be 
left with just two hours of electricity a day.

The cabinet approved the cuts in response to the Palestinian Authority 
informing Israel that it will pay only 60 percent of Gaza’s monthly 
electricity bill from Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/benjamin-netanyahu> and defense 
minister Avigdor Lieberman 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/avigdor-lieberman> have maintained 
that Gaza’s severe electricity shortage is strictly a matter for 
Palestinians.

“This is an [internal] Palestinian crisis,” Lieberman said. “Those who 
need to pay for electricity are the leaders of Hamas, of the Palestinian 
Authority – we are not a party in this.”

Echoing the Israeli government’s claims, UN humanitarian coordinator 
Robert Piper last week said 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/un-blames-palestinians-electricity-crisis-israel-caused-gaza> 
Gaza’s electricity crisis is the result of a “longstanding internal 
Palestinian dispute.”

Piper warned, however, that further reductions would be “catastrophic.”


    Israel is responsible

But human rights groups reject Israel’s effort to wash its hands of 
Gaza, insisting that Israel is obliged to maintain the electricity 
supply regardless of payment.

Human Rights Watch’s director for the region Omar Shakir told the 
right-wing pro-Israel publication /Algemeiner/ 
<https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/04/27/human-rights-group-israel-bears-ultimate-responsibility-for-gaza-electricity-supply-as-crisis-looms/> 
that because Israel is “legally the occupying power,” it must refuse the 
PA’s request to cut Gaza’s electricity.

“Israel controls the borders, the airspace, the waters of Gaza, so 
Israel has an obligation that goes beyond merely responding to a request 
from Palestinian authorities,” Shakir said.

The UN, the ICRC, the United States and the European Union all maintain 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/how-israel-sabotages-war-crimes-investigations-gaza> 
that under international law Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza, 
despite Israel’s withdrawal of its soldiers and settlers from the 
interior of the territory in 2005.

“As the occupying power, Israel has obligations to ensure the basic 
needs of the civilian population are met,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty 
International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, 
said last week 
<https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/gaza-looming-humanitarian-catastrophe-highlights-need-to-lift-israels-10-year-illegal-blockade/>.

“The Israeli authorities must immediately lift the illegal blockade and 
end their collective punishment of Gaza’s population,” Mughrabi added.

The spokesperson for the European Union’s foreign affairs chief Federica 
Mogherini did not respond to a request for comment about the 
deteriorating situation in Gaza.


    Illegal

In a letter <http://gisha.org/press/7830> to Israel’s attorney general 
last week, 16 Israeli organizations said that the decision to cut the 
electricity clearly violates international humanitarian law.

Gisha, a group that monitors the blockade of Gaza, said the letter 
emphasizes “the illegality of the cabinet’s decision under both Israeli 
and international law.”

In 2008, the Israeli high court ruled that Israel could minimally reduce 
the supply of electricity to Gaza for “security” needs. But Israel is 
not claiming security as a factor now.

The ruling was denounced 
<http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20080208_hcj_approves_sanctions_on_gaza> 
by human rights groups at the time, but the 16 organizations reminded 
the attorney general that even the 2008 ruling acknowledges that Gaza is 
“almost totally dependent on Israel for its supply of electricity,” and 
that Israel has a “humanitarian obligation” to prevent “harm to the 
civilian population.”

The 2008 ruling had allowed Israel to reduce its electricity supply by 
just five percent but required Israel to continue to supply Gaza with 
enough fuel to operate its power station.

Today, Gaza is even more dependent on Israel for its electricity than it 
was in 2008. Gaza’s sole power plant no longer operates at all.

The power plant has not operated at full capacity 
<http://gisha.org/gazzamap/395> since 2009, when Israel stopped allowing 
the “humanitarian minimum” of diesel fuel to enter Gaza.

It completely shut down in April 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/power-crisis-hits-gaza-hospitals-israel-tightens-siege-sick> 
after it ran out of emergency fuel supplies paid for by Qatar and Turkey.

While the electricity crisis imposes severe hardships 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/photos-gaza-left-suffer-dark/20736> 
on daily life, it is catastrophic for hospitals, which lack sufficient 
backup capacity and are already canceling critical surgeries 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/surgeries-cut-one-third-gazas-main-hospital/20601> 
and shutting down entire wings.

A generator powering an intensive care unit at a children’s hospital 
stopped working three weeks ago 
<http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-19/gaza-strip-electricity-cut-in-hamas-and-fatah-dispute/8629036> 
because it was overloaded.

Gaza’s health ministry is warning <http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=9186> that 
more than 50 operating rooms that perform around 250 surgeries each day 
may be closed unless Israel fulfills its obligation to guarantee basic 
services to the population, including fuel to operate Gaza’s power plant.


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