Gisha: Israel must halt reductions to electricity supply to Gaza immediately

Monday, June 19, 2017: This morning, a senior official with the Israeli Ministry of Justice informed Gisha that beginning today at 10am Israel would begin cutting electricity supply sold to the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) told Gisha that the electricity supply from Israel to Gaza was reduced by 6.7 percent. For years, Israel has been selling 120 megawatts to Gaza, supplied through ten power lines, with each line carrying 12 megawatts. Since this morning, Israel cut supply on two lines from 12 to eight megawatts. In parallel, Israel continues to severely limit entrance of generators and spare parts needed for their repair to Gaza, as well as entrance of transformers and equipment needed to repair an electricity network nearing collapse.

Before the Israeli Security Cabinet decision last Sunday to cut supply based on the Palestinian Authority’s request, Gisha sent an urgent letter to Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman warning against an impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza should Israel decrease electricity supply to the Strip and stressing that doing so is a red line that must not be crossed. In addition, last Wednesday (June 14) a coalition of 16 civil society organizations sent an urgent letter to Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, emphasizing the unlawfulness of the cabinet’s decision under both Israeli and international law. No response has been received from the attorney general, and it is unknown whether, or when, there will be further reductions to the electricity supply from Israel to the Strip.

We emphasize that by reducing electricity supply to Gaza, Israel is knowingly aggravating an already dangerous situation in which the Strip is teetering on the verge of a humanitarian crisis – and with implications for Israeli citizens as well. The consequences of a reduction in supply are likely to be devastating. Already before these current cuts, residents of Gaza received four hours of supply followed by 12 hours of blackouts; water desalination and sewage treatment facilities are not operational; some 100 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage are being dumped mostly at sea daily; generators are over-extended; entire hospital wards are shut down during blackouts, and people who rely on life-saving equipment are at risk.

Find here a new resource from Gisha, providing answers to frequently asked questions: What are Gaza’s sources of electricity supply? Why can’t Gaza produce its own electricity? What’s the background on the PA and Israel’s decision to cut supply? What is the extent of Israel and others actors’ – the PA, the de facto Hamas government in Gaza, Egypt and the international community – responsibility to residents of Gaza?

Israel must immediately cancel reductions to electricity supply to Gaza and work instead to increase supply in a manner that allows civilians to live their lives with dignity.

Find here Frequently Asked Questions on the Gaza Energy Crisis.