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Gaza in darkness: on the possible consequences the shortage of electricity

«The drought in the Gas leads to groundwater pollution in Israel. Electricity shortages lead to sanitation problems causing epidemics that do not stop at borders. Therefore, humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip in the interests of Israel.»

The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, 27 Jun 2016, ahead of the signing of the agreement on normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel.

«In the discussions of strategy in relation to the Gaza strip was considered solely a question of how hard will be the blow dealt to Hamas, but not political alternatives or the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza, which, according to Israeli security forces, may have dire consequences for Israel.»

From the report of the auditor General on the results of the operation «Indestructible rock». February 28, 2017.

The Gaza strip receives electricity from three sources. Power sector began its work in 2002 and by 2006 had generated 90 megawatts per day. After the abduction by Hamas of Gilad Shalit in June 2006 the Israeli air force struck the Gaza power plant, causing significant damage. After repairs, the power was reduced to 60 megawatts a day, her job depends on deliveries of oil and diesel fuel. In April 2017, the plant ceased operations in connection with tensions between the leadership of the Palestinian authority and Hamas on the question of payment for fuel.

June 20 this year, the media has reported that Egypt has agreed to supply diesel fuel for the power plant sector.

Today, the Gaza strip receives electricity from Egypt (28 megawatts per day) and from Israel, which until recently sold to sector 120 megawatts of electricity per day. Electricity Israel charged a fee from the taxes collected by Israel for the PNA.

In the Gaza strip is home to about two million people. The residents and institutions of the sector still received electricity for four hours, after which followed a 12-hour break. According to the international humanitarian organizations and the Israeli NGO «Gisha», due to the lack of electricity (among other problems) the Gaza strip is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster – hospitals depend on the operation of generators (in this case the import of Gas generators and spare parts limited), in the sector there is an acute shortage of drinking water, desalination plants and sewage treatment plants are in a sea of daily hits 100 million liters of wastewater.

The reduction in the supply of electricity to Gaza

Monday, June 19, Israel has reduced the supply of electricity to the sector. The press service of the Electric company («Hevrat hashmal») confirmed edition that earlier in the Gaza strip were delivered to 120 megawatts per day on ten lines for the sum of 40 million shekels, now the volume supplied to Gaza electricity has declined, and Israel began to supply the electric power sector by 25 million shekels (75 megawatts per day).

According to the representative of the Electrical campaign of the Gaza strip Muhammad Process, the supply of electricity will be reduced from four to three or two and a half hours a day.

The press service of «Hevrat hashmal» States that have reduced the supply of electricity to the Gaza strip «on the orders of the government.»

We will remind, several weeks ago, Palestinian authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he did not intend to pay for electricity supplied by Israel to Gaza as which controls the Gaza Hamas charges residents pay for electricity but not hold the money of the Palestinian authority. Later, Abbas agreed to keep paying Israel for electricity to Gaza, but not 40 million shekels, and 25 million shekels. We will remind, Israel deducts the money for the power of taxes (e.g., VAT) collected by Israel for the PNA.

Military-political Cabinet of the government of Israel decided to grant the request of Mahmoud Abbas on the reduction of electricity supply to the Gaza strip. In the meeting, which accepted the decision, was the chief of the General staff Gadi Gadi eizenkot, commander of military intelligence (AMAN) Hertz Levi and coordinator of IDF activities in the territories Yoav Mordechai.

The press service of the Ministry of defense of Israel, the IDF spokesman and the press service of the headquarters of the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) do not comment on the decision. Earlier media reported that the decision was made, in particular, on the recommendation of the Army command of defence of Israel, warned that the situation in Gaza has reached a dangerous level of tension, and that the move could lead to the escalation of the conflict.

The threat of a humanitarian and environmental disaster

In light of the adoption of the military-political Cabinet decision of 16 human rights organizations appealed to the legal Advisor to the government of Avihay Mandelblit with a demand to overturn the government’s decision to reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza strip. In a letter to the human rights activists remind that the decision is contrary to Israeli and international law. In particular, the authors of the letter refer to the decision of the high Court from 2008, in which the Supreme court of justice ruled that in Gaza there is almost complete dependency on electricity supplies from Israel, and that Israel must provide Gaza with supplies «necessary to meet essential needs of the civilian population». The letter also reminds that Israel is controlling the import of goods into the Gaza strip, restricts the importation into the sector of equipment that can help the sector to cope with the shortage of electricity, generators and spare parts, batteries and other goods, which Israel defines as «dual use goods» – that is, goods that can be used for military purposes.

Human rights activists say that an even greater reduction in the supply of electricity to the Gaza strip will inevitably cause a humanitarian disaster that will affect not only the two million residents of Gaza, but to Israel. In particular, on the ecology of the state.

This opinion is shared in Israel. Former Director General of the Ministry of environmental protection Yosi Anbari said the radio station «Galey TSAHAL» that the increase in volume of wastewater that fall into the Mediterranean sea from the Gaza strip, could lead to interruptions in the operation of desalination plants in Israel.

Arik Shechter, press Secretary for environment Minister ze’ev Elkin, told the editorial that the Ministry of environment has not commented on the statement Anbari and has no data on how big shortage of electricity in the Gaza strip can affect the ecology of Israel.

Director of EcoPeace Middle East, Gidon Bromberg in an interview with The Jerusalem Post said, «We begin to play Russian roulette.» In his opinion, a full stop of treatment facilities in Gaza could lead to an environmental disaster not only in Gaza, but in Israel, primarily in the southern part of the Mediterranean coast.

Muhammad Azaiza: crisis may lead to a new war

Editorial spoke with a resident of the Gaza strip Muhammad Aseity, which cooperates with the Israeli human rights organization «Gisha». Muhammad is in a better position than most residents of Gaza, where the unemployment rate exceeds 40%. Aziz have a steady income, which allowed him to purchase several generators, which, according to him, still only enough for Essentials. He has three children, the youngest of whom is four months, and which never swam in the Mediterranean sea, within walking distance from his house, because in the sea off the Gaza coast daily spill of untreated wastewater.

According to our interlocutor, the humanitarian crisis, which for many years is the Gaza strip which is sharply aggravated in connection with the new electricity cuts will force dvuhmestnoe the people of Gaza «to the streets». However, the result of popular unrest is not the overthrow of Hamas, is considered by many in Israel, and the new war, says Aziza.

«We know that in Israel there is an opinion: if you bring the people of Gaza to exhaustion, it will rebel and throw off the Hamas. But this opinion is not confirmed neither by the history of the last ten years, nor the situation of the Gazans, the vast majority of them – civilians, women, elderly, children. We don’t want we have, as in 2007, there was a war between Hamas and Fatah. Moreover, history shows that when Gas start riots, Hamas takes up the only available weapon – rocket», – said Aziza.

According to Muhammad, the people of Gaza believe that the main reason for their plight is a struggle for power between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas. While Israel is convinced Azaiza, doing everything to exacerbate the conflict.

«Since when Israel is so readily responds to the demands of Abbas? Taking the decision to reduce the supply of electricity, the Israeli government can not understand how it will affect not only the lives of the two million population of the Gaza, but Israel’s own security. Moreover, under international law, Israel is responsible for the plight of Gazans. Requirement Abbas is purely political in nature because, despite the fact that Hamas do not translate PNA levied on the people of Gaza electricity charges, the leadership of the Palestinian authority receives from the sector enough tax. However, the request of Abbas, it fits into the Israeli plan to split Gaza and the West Bank. And I think that now we are witnessing a definitive rupture between us and the residents of the Palestinian authority, and with it destroyed the dream of the Palestinians state within the 1967 borders, the year,» says Muhammad.

We note that recently about the possibility of provoking a new war by Hamas against the background of financial crisis in the terrorist organization said in an interview with the «Cursor» one of the participants «Professional National Security» – Lieutenant Colonel Alon Evyatar, a specialist on the Middle East and Arab issues, a former military intelligence officer who participated in the development of a strategic plan of action against Hamas.

Import and export

11 September 2005 the territory of the Gaza strip left an Israeli soldier last. Thus ended the so-called «unilateral disengagement.» Israelis in the sector anymore. The control of the sea, airspace and border points of the Gaza strip have left Israel.

In 2006 in Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza held elections in which Hamas won. In 2007, Hamas forcefully seized power in Gaza, overthrowing the authority of Fatah. Since the elections in Gaza was carried out.

After the capture of the Hamas government in Gaza, the military-political Cabinet of Israel has decided to tighten control over the sector and introduce an almost complete blockade of the sector – the import of goods was reduced to needed for the survival of the low, exports of goods were completely banned was imposed tight restrictions on the supply of the fuel sector, as well as on the movement of people between Gaza and the rest of the PA.

Among the goods prohibited between 2007 and 2010 to import to the Gaza strip was, for example, chocolate, cilantro, and toilet paper. The ban acted on the principle «everything not permitted is forbidden», and the above-mentioned goods are not included in the list of goods permitted. In 2010, after the incident with the Turkish ship «Mavi Marmara», Israel eased the blockade of Gaza and allowed the importation of most goods, except so-called «dual use items» that can be used for military purposes. In particular, it was about building materials. Although in practice the restrictions were not always followed.

The Palestinian authority, formally, a special control Gaza, but not which controls the territory, collects taxes on imported goods sector. Hamas also imposes a tax on importers. As a result, Gazans have to pay double GST.

The almost complete restriction on the export of goods remain in force until 2014. If until 2007, the main markets for exports from Gaza was Israel and the PA, after 2007, the sector was able to export goods abroad, which gradually led to economic collapse and record unemployment in Gaza.

Another weakening of the blockade occurred in November 2014 when, after the end of operation «protective edge» military-political Cabinet has decided to allow the import of goods from Gaza in Israel and the PA.

According to the data obtained by our editorial team from the press service of the headquarters of the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) in 2016 from the Gaza strip was taken 31.287 tons of goods – approximately 180 trucks per month, while from 2007 to 2014 in a month from the Gaza strip traveled no more than 15 truckloads of goods.

The Gates Of Gaza

After the seizure of power in Gaza by Hamas and until 2013, the main «gates» through which the inhabitants could leave the sector, was the border crossing «Rafah» on the border with Egypt. Since 2013, the border with Egypt almost all the time closed, and the only way for Gazans left the Erez crossing on the border with Israel. In 2014, through the Erez crossing were missed 65.539 residents of the Gaza strip. In 2015 – 103.784. In 2016 99.864.

Most Gazans receiving the permit for the border crossing, is traders, students and people granted a permit on humanitarian grounds. Contrary to popular belief, the people of Gaza, like other residents of autonomy, being treated in Israel for free treatment, as well as electricity, water and other goods and services, mostly paid from taxes collected by Israel for the PNA.

«Hamas is using travel permits issued by Israel to Gaza residents to transfer funds for terrorist activities, weapons and information for the organization of terrorist attacks in Israel», – said in a statement, received by the editors from the press service of the COGAT. Last month at the Erez crossing detained two sisters, has received a permit for treatment in Israel. Among the things the detainees were found explosives.

The material is prepared by Alla Gavrilova

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Editorial preparing the following material on the subject in which you will learn more about the work of the checkpoints on the Gaza border.

Gaza in darkness: on the possible consequences the shortage of electricity 21.06.2017

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