Gisha in urgent letter to MoD, Attorney General, COGAT: Israel’s decision to block transfer of fuel to Gaza’s power plant is cruel, illegal, and immoral. It must be reversed immediately

Tuesday, June 25, 2019. This morning, Israel announced its decision to halt the transfer of fuel used to operate the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Energy Authority and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, the fuel currently available in the power plant’s storage tanks is only sufficient for operating the plant’s turbines until this evening, after which the plant will be forced to cease operations. This means that the supply of electricity to Gaza residents is likely to decline dramatically already today.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) tweeted that fuel supply to the power plant in Gaza would be stopped “following the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel…until further notice.”

Israel’s decision to deliberately reduce the supply of a basic humanitarian commodity, knowingly harming the civilian population in Gaza, constitutes illegal collective punishment. In an urgent letter (Hebrew) to Israeli Minister of Defense, Benjamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and the COGAT, Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokon, Gisha calls for the decision to be reversed immediately.

As is widely known, Gaza suffers from an acute, chronic shortage of electricity, impacting power supply to homes, hospitals, factories, and basic civilian infrastructure. In recent months and up until this morning, three of the turbines at Gaza’s power plant were running on fuel purchased from Israel using funds donated by Qatar and transferred to the Strip under United Nations’ supervision from Israel via Kerem Shalom Crossing, allowing the plant to produce a total of about 75 megawatts of power. Added to 120 megawatts sold to Gaza by Israel and supplied through direct power lines, the overall electricity supply available to residents reached eight consecutive hours of electricity at most, followed by at least eight hours of outages, in rolling blackouts.

Following Israel’s decision to halt supply of fuel to the power plant current supply stands at approximately 165 megawatts; about a third of actual demand, which is estimated at around 500 megawatts.

There is no justification for the decision to stop fuel supply to Gaza’s power plant. Israel must reverse this wrongful and illegal measure immediately and renew transfer of fuel to the Strip.

To read the letter (Hebrew), see here.