Israel controls the supply of infrastructure upon which the Gaza Strip is reliant. Gaza’s electricity system, as developed since 1967, is largely based on power supplied from Israel through 11 high voltage transmission lines1. A power station was built in Gaza in 1998, but its capacity has been limited since it was bombed by Israel in 2006. The station has never been fully repaired. Restrictions on the transfer of equipment and the entrance of trained professionals, as well as on the shipping of equipment for repairs outside Gaza, have also impaired the ability to upgrade the electricity system. Another factor that interfered with the operation of the power station was the restrictions Israel imposed on the transfer of industrial diesel into Gaza beginning in October 2007 as part of its policy of “economic warfare”, designed to undermine Gaza’s economy. A dispute over finances between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip further decreased industrial diesel supply to Gaza in 2010. In early 2011, the shortage was partially resolved by the purchase and transport of diesel for the power station through the tunnels. As a result, the power station’s dependence on Israel has decreased, though it still relies on Israel, to a degree, for shipping equipment for repairs, importing parts, bringing in expert engineers and sending engineers from Gaza for professional training and business meetings. Additionally, Israeli-supplied electricity still makes up the lion’s share of Gaza’s electricity, and there is no plan for an alternative in sight.
The dependence on Israel for electricity translates into dependence on Israel for water supply and sewage treatment, as electricity is needed for pumping water from wells and delivering it to homes, pumping sewage from homes and transporting it to sewage treatment facilities and for operating the treatment facilities. Additionally, some 5% of the water in Gaza is delivered in pipes by the Israeli water company.
Israel also controls wired, wireless and Internet communications in the Palestinian territory: international calls from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are made on the Israeli network via an underwater communications cable located in the Mediterranean; the Internet connection runs through the Israeli network, and Israel determines what frequencies are designated to Palestinian cellular phone companies. The Palestinian Authority’s dependence on the Israeli network is a result of Israel’s control over the periphery of the Gaza Strip and passage between it and the West Bank, which includes control over the ability to bring in equipment, lay cables and build infrastructure. For instance, Israel prohibits transporting into the Palestinian territory certain types of equipment needed for improving communications and building independent infrastructure. In addition, repairing telephone network optical fibers that run between Palestinian cities in the West Bank or between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip requires Israeli approval, as these fibers run through Israeli territory or areas controlled by Israel.
- See, GISHA, RED LINES CROSSED: DESTRUCTION OF GAZA’S INFRASTRUCTURE (Aug. 2009). [↩]