Court Document Reveals Military’s Reckless Electricity Gamble in Gaza

State admits plan to cut electricity in Gaza is based on erroneous data

Gisha and Adalah: The military is recklessly endangering Gaza residents

Thur., December 20, 2007 –  Israel’s plan to cut electricity supplies to Gaza is based on erroneous data regarding the amount of electricity supplied by Israel, the state attorney’s office admitted in a document submitted to the Supreme Court last night. According to the document, security officials who designed the plan to reduce electricity did not even know how much electricity is currently being supplied to Gaza, and they may revise the plan once they review the corrected data.

The state also admitted that despite the court decision to delay implementation of the plan pending further court review, Israel’s Electric Company "mistakenly" reduced electricity supply to Gaza by 5% on two lines for a 13-day period in December but restored the electricity once the "mistake" was discovered.

The state’s admission came in an oddly drafted affidavit from the director of Israel’s Electricity Administration, filled with contradictory data. The state’s submission ignored the court’s directive, in a Nov. 30 interim decision, to respond to detailed questions regarding the effect of the reduction on Gaza’s humanitarian services.

According to Gisha and Adalah, which are leading a coalition of 10 human rights groups challenging the cuts before Israel’s Supreme Court, the state’s admission is further proof that it has no way of monitoring the harm that cutting electricity would cause to Gaza’s faltering infrastructure, especially hospitals and water wells, already suffering from a 20% electricity deficit and the effects of six months of border closures.

Already, with the onset of winter, power outages in Gaza, ubiquitous since Israel destroyed Gaza’s power station in June 2006, have become longer and longer, disrupting the functioning of water wells and hospital operating rooms. Israel’s deliberate cuts in fuel supplies to Gaza, in effect since October 28, are exacerbating the situation, interrupting medical services and depriving tens of thousands of people, on a rotating basis, of access to clean water. Gas stations have closed, 11 out of 56 primary care clinics, lacking fuel for generators, have reduced provision of non-urgent care, and Ministry of Health workers vehicles needed to transport service providers are paralyzed for lack of fuel.

Israel, which controls Gaza’s borders, has severely restricted the entry of spare parts, necessary to maintain and repair generators, sewage plants, and water wells.

"Any cut in electricity to Gaza’s civilian population violates international humanitarian law, regardless of the government’s data" said Hassan Jabareen, Director of Adalah. "The law prohibits deliberately harming civilians for political purposes."

"With a trigger-happy hand on the ‘off’ switch and no ability to monitor the disastrous effects, Israel’s military is deepening the electricity crisis in Gaza," said Sari Bashi, Director of Gisha. "Intentionally disrupting water supply and medical services does not protect Israel’s security. It only harms innocent civilians."