Gisha Demands Restoration of Fuel and Equipment to Gaza

Today, July 6, 2006, Gisha made an urgent appeal to the Defense Minister to restore and maintain the supply of fuel to Gaza and to open Karni Crossing for the equipment needed to operate generators. The appeal came after the Israeli military yesterday stopped the supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip through Nahal Oz and closed Karni Crossing.

The uninterrupted supply of fuel and equipment is necessary for the functioning of Gaza’s health and sanitation systems. Fuel supply to Gaza has not resumed this morning, and Karni was opened only partially, for food and internationally coordinated shipments. Since Gaza’s power station was destroyed on June 28, there is an increased need for fuel to power the generators in Gaza and for spare parts to keep the generators running at such a high capacity. These generators are providing electricity to hospitals and to the sewage pumps that remove waste water from populated areas and bring it to treatment plants. Without a steady supply of fuel, hospitals cannot perform life-saving surgery and treatment plants cannot pump and treat sewage in Gaza.

Gaza hospitals have reduced their activities to life-saving procedures. Three sewage treatment plants have already closed for lack of power, and other equipment has been damaged, raising concern that untreated sewage will pollute the aquifer or spill into the streets. Because of the electricity shortages, stores in Gaza have stopped selling meat and dairy products. Water cannot be pumped to homes for washing. Businesses have closed. Workers have lost their jobs.

Withholding fuel and equipment from Gaza residents constitutes collective punishment, in violation of international law. According to Faysal Shawa, a businessman and Gaza resident: "We have been thrown back to the way people lived 100 years ago, with no electricity. We don’t have water, we don’t have milk for our kids." According to Issam Younis, Director of Gaza’s Mezan Center for Human Rights: "Gaza residents urgently need a steady supply of water and electricity for basic humanitarian needs." According to Prof. Kenneth Mann, head of Gisha’s advisory board: "Israel must open the crossings and maintain the supply of fuel, electricity, and equipment needed to operate Gaza’s health and water systems."