The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli authorities from preventing technical crews from repairing one of the major lines that carries electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip. The line has been disrupted for 13 days which has resulted in aggravating the electricity crisis affecting the Gaza strip, and increasing the power shortage by 37.3%.The PCHR is concerned over the consequences of the continued disruption of the line, especially the increase in the duration of electricity outages and the resulting impact on daily services provided to the Palestinian population.

Mr. Jamal al-Dirdissawi, Director of Public Relations in Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO), stated to the PCHR that on 17 November 2011, one of the major lines which carry electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip was disrupted near the northern border. According to al-Dirdissawi, this line provides 112 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli authorities have not allowed the Israeli supplier or Palestinian technical crews to have access to the line to repair it. The prevention of repairs to the damaged line coincides with threats made by Dani Ayalon, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister, that Israel is examining the possibility of Israel pulling out of the Gaza Strip in terms of infrastructure in response to the Palestinian reconciliation meeting in Cairo.

According to continuing investigations conducted by PCHR on the power crisis in the Gaza Strip, this disruption in the line coincides with a reduction of twenty megawatts of power from Gaza Power Generation Plant as a result of the periodical maintenance works conducted in the Plant at this time of the year and the increasing demand on electricity because of the cold winter weather.

According to Eng. Ahmed Abu al-Amarin, Director of the Palestinian Power Authority’s Power Information Centre, the Gaza Strip needs approximately 300 megawatts of electricity and the current shortage effects more than one third of Gaza’s power needs (112 megawatts representing 37.3% of total need). Currently, 188 megawatts of electricity is provided to the Gaza Strip as follows: 108 megawatts from Israel, 63 megawatts generated by Gaza Power Generation Plant and 17 megawatts supplied by Egypt.

Due to the above reasons, GEDCO has been forced to work in accordance with an emergency plan with electricity outages lasting for eight hours daily, which decrease to four hours if the turn of outage comes after midnight.

The PCHR is seriously concerned over the power crisis that continues to affect the Gaza Strip and highlights the following:

1. They stress that the population in the Gaza Strip are classified as civilians who are granted protection under the international human rights law and international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention

2. They call upon the international community to compel the Israeli occupation authorities to comply with the rules of international law and to put an end to the imposition of collective punishment on the civilian population

3. Lastly they call upon the international community to exert pressure on the government of Israel to prevent the aggravation of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip and to allow technical crews to repair the disrupted electricity line, as part of Israel’s moral and legal responsibility to protect the fundamental human rights of the civilian population who are under occupation.