Israel shows Gaza (Palestine) who has the power

8 Jan

Imagine a world where there is no power. A winter where you have no heater to keep warm. And at night, the lights will not work. That is what Gazans are subjected to as we speak:

10 Israeli and Palestinian human rights group have condemned the latest action by the Israeli government for restricting industrial fuel, which by the way is entirely funded by the European Union, into Gaza for running power plants. In their statement and petition to the Israel’s Supreme Court , the groups said the action amounted to ‘collective punishment and harm innocent civilians, in violation of international law.’

Due to the shortage and running out of fuel reserves, Gaza’s power plant has to cut electricity production by 30% as of 5 January 2008. The cuts will cause up to 8 hours of daily power outages to residents of central Gaza and Gaza City, including disruptions to Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, sewage treatment plants, water wells, clinics, and other vital humanitarian institutions. In an AP report, ‘Israeli fuel cuts force Gaza blackouts’, Kanan Obeid, chairman of Gaza’s Hamas-run energy authority, said Gaza now has only 35 percent of the power its 1.5 million residents need.

Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou best summarises Israeli’s action:

“Israel is repeatedly bringing Gaza residents below the ‘humanitarian red line’, showing that it has no ability to monitor the humanitarian situation as it has promised, but rather is continuing to deliberately harm the most basic humanitarian needs, as part of collective punishment measures against the civilian population there.”

In another report by B’Tselem, it noted that 131 Palestinians (who did not participate in the hostilities) are killed by Israel’s security forces last year. While the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed during clashes is reduced in 2007, the human rights group stated that human rights continue to deteriorate in the Occupied Territories.B’Tselem is particularly concerned with two emerging trends in its report:

1. Use of security justifications for virtually every Israeli action in the Occupied Territories. e.g. building settlements, effectively annexing them to Israel. Though B’Tselem did not mentioned the reduction of fuel supplies in this regard, the Israeli government has said such the measure is to “force terrorists to stop their rocket attacks”; hence, indirectly, using security as a justification.

2. Lack of accountability (of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights). E.g. reluctance to investigate and prosecute human rights violations.

Highlights of the report:

• In 2007, there was an increase of 13 percent in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial, which averaged 830 people.

• 66 staffed checkpoints and 459 physical roadblocks on average controlled movement inside the West Bank . There was little improvement in Palestinians’ freedom of movement, despite the promised easing of restrictions.

• Israeli settlement population grew by 4.5% (compared with 1.5% population growth inside Israel ), a more moderate increase than the previous year.

• Israel continues the freeze policy on family unification, denying tens of thousands of Palestinians the right to a family life. However, in what was termed a one-time gesture, Israel approved family unification for some 3,500 Palestinian families.

• The number of houses demolished in East Jerusalem rose by 38 percent, to 69 homes.

• Palestinians continue to face severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank , causing serious hardship in the summer.

• The number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes was the highest throughout the Intifada.

As George Bush is scheduled to visit Middle East on 9 January (Wednesday) for peace talks, Gazans will experience a colder winter due to lack of proper heating. Palestinians, in the year 2007, continue to suffer from human rights violations ranging from restrictions to freedom of movement to detention without trial. As Israel continues with its Occupation, cries of (less) power to Gazans and Palestinians ring incessantly.

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References
1. Israel’s Fuel Cuts Cause 30% Reduction in Gaza Power Plant Production, Gish, 6 January 2008

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