Israel’s Military Agrees to “Temporarily” Increase the Amount of Industrial Diesel Permitted to Supply Gaza’s Power Station

Military relents only after hospitals, water and other systems suffer damage from long power outages

Gisha and Adalah: "Israel, which controls Gaza’s borders and supply lines, is cynically exploiting Gaza’s residents’ dependence on fuel and electricity. Israel is tightening the noose of collective punishment, partially relenting only after people begin to choke."

Thu., January 10, 2008 –  The State Attorney’s office said tonight that the military would increase the amount of industrial diesel it permits Gaza’s power station to acquire. The announcement came in a court document responding to an urgent request for an injunction filed by 10 human rights groups who have petitioned against the fuel and electricity cuts to Gaza.

The cuts that Israel ordered in supplies of industrial diesel to Gaza’s power plant have caused severe shortages, forcing the power plant to cut production by 30% as of Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008. As a result, Gaza residents have been suffering up to 8 hours of scheduled power outages daily and longer "unscheduled" outages, and their access to clean water has been disrupted. The power outages crippled the functioning of Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa. Faced with up to 12 hours a day of power outages, the hospital’s water pump broke down, and medical care was disrupted. "We were forced to shut down vital systems in the hospital, and we could not clean the hospital, wash linens or operate the sterilization system," said Hassan Khalef, Shifa Hospital’s director. "The daily power outages cripple our ability to provide care to our patients."

Israel agreed to increase the amount of industrial diesel it would permit the power station to acquire, only to the level it purchased before the October 28, 2007 cuts (2.2 million liters/week), even though the power station now needs approximately 3.5 million liters/week for full capacity. The industrial diesel is funded by the European Union, which buys it from a private company and delivers it to Gaza’s power plant.

Gisha’s Executive Director Sari Bashi said: “Israel’s ‘relenting’ comes too little and too late. Damage has already been caused, and Israel still refuses to cancel its restriction on the amount of industrial diesel that Gaza residents may buy."

Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou said: "Israel’s obligation to permit Gaza residents to acquire the amount of diesel they need is not ‘philanthropy.’ It is an obligation under international law, which Israel is violating."