Minister Erdan vs. the Supreme Court and International Law

MK Gilad Erdan’s suggestion to stop selling Gaza electricity ignores the position of the High Court of Justice as well as international law

Sunday, May 13, 2012 – According to international law and a High Court of Justice ruling from 2008, Israel is obligated to supply electricity to the Gaza Strip as long as it controls its borders and as long as the Gaza Strip has not managed to develop alternative power supply sources. In 2008, the political echelon proposed a cut of one percent of Gaza’s electricity supply as a punitive measure. The High Court of Justice ruled that the dependence on Israel, which was created over four decades of occupation, gives rise to a duty on Israel’s part to continue supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip. The suggested cut was ultimately withdrawn due to the expected harm to civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and in view of sharp international criticism of Israel.

Israel has controlled most of Gaza’s electricity supply since 1967. In the Oslo Accords, Israel undertook to sell Gaza 120 megawatts of electricity. The development of alternative power sources for Gaza has been delayed as a result of the bombing of Gaza's power station in 2006 and delays in granting permission to transport the equipment necessary for repairing the damage. Efforts to repair and upgrade the power station and to arrive at an agreement with Egypt that would allow for an increase in supply via the Sinai are currently underway.

Deliberate cuts to Gaza’s power supply could result in investors withdrawing millions of shekels of investments in Israel’s electrical company, as European government investors are not permitted to invest in companies that breach international humanitarian law. This would then undermine the electrical company’s ability to function properly.

Israel currently supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts per hour, which constitutes 35% of Gaza’s electrical consumption. Sale of electricity to Gaza generates approximately 40 million shekels in revenue per month for the Israeli Electric Company. For more than three months, as a result of fuel shortages and damage to the power station which has not yet been repaired, Gaza residents have been experiencing 12 hour power cuts in every 24-hour period.