Urgent Warning to Israeli Ministers: Cutting Gaza’s Electricity is Illegal and Ineffective

Urgent Warning to Israeli Ministers: Cutting Gaza’s Electricity is Illegal and Ineffective

In an urgent letter sent to Israel’s Cabinet ministers, Gisha warns that intentionally punishing Gaza’s 1.5 million men, women, and children violates international law – and it will not stop rocket fire on Israeli towns.

Wed., September 5, 2007 –  Intentionally punishing Gaza’s civilian population by cutting electricity or water supply is a flagrant violation of international law, and it will not bring security to Israel’s border towns, warned Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in an urgent letter sent today to Israel’s Cabinet ministers. The letter came as the ministers reportedly weighed proposals to inflict punitive measures on Gaza’s residents, in response to rocket fire on the Israeli border town of Sderot.

Deliberately targeting civilians, in Gaza or Sderot, is neither legal nor moral," said Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha. “International law prohibits launching Quassam rockets on Israeli civilians in border towns, and it prohibits depriving Gaza’s 1.5 million women, men, and children of electricity and water.”

“Gaza is not a ‘foreign country’; Israel continues to control significant aspects of life in the Gaza Strip, and it is responsible for the welfare of the population there,” Gisha told the Cabinet ministers, noting that international organizations such as the United Nations continue to consider Gaza to be occupied territory – to which Israel owes legal duties.

The letter warned that cutting electricity supply would threaten the functioning of hospitals, the supply of drinking water, and the operation of sewage pumps needed for basic hygiene.The letter noted that punitive measures inflicted by Israel, especially the closure of Gaza’s crossings since June 2007, have already inflicted severe damage to Gaza’s economy and the welfare of its residents – and have not ended rocket fire on the Israeli border town of Sderot.

In a June 2007 letter sent to Gisha, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer promised to continue to supply electricity and water to Gaza, out of recognition that “supply of electricity and water are outside the boundaries of the conflict.” Today, Gisha asked that his commitment be honored.