Israel must stop its collective punishment of Palestinian civilians
Israel’s ban on the entry of humanitarian aid and relief supplies for Gaza’s civilian population—which forms part of Israel’s unlawful collective punishment imposed on over two million Palestinians—is further exacerbating the already desperate humanitarian conditions in the Strip. In particular, the Israel authorities and military have heightened Gaza’s energy crisis by systematically targeting power lines, banning the entry of fuel needed to operate Gaza’s sole power plant, and refusing to repair four of the main power lines damaged during the recent aggression at the time of publication.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that during the latest aggression Israeli forces extensively targeted water and electricity networks, and this happened in parallel to the Israeli authorities’ tightening of closure measures—including a ban on the entry of fuel funded by Qatar. The ensuing energy crisis in Gaza has undermined essential services, hindered access to water in multi-story buildings, and prevented sewage from being treated.
The Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) stated that the ban on the entry of fuel used to operate the power plant has caused a decline in the amount of electricity produced by the plant, which has a current capacity of no more than 45 mw. As a result, the aggregate amount of electricity available in the Gaza Strip from all sources is about 116 mw, while the average demand ranges between 425 mw during the morning hours and increases during the day and evening to exceed 540 mw. GEDCO estimated that the gap between supply and demand of electricity is about 75%, prompting the company to supply only four hours of electricity at a time followed by 16 hours of power cut.
As background, it is worth pointing out that Gaza’s electricity supply comes from two sources: the first being Israel’s electricity company, which supplies 120 mw of electricity to the Gaza Strip through ten lines; the second being the Gaza Power Plant, the transformers and fuel tanks of which have been bombed multiple times by Israel since 2006 and of which the capacity has been reduced from 140 mw to 70 mw. By comparing these quantities with the actual need of Gaza’s residents as estimated by GEDCO, it is clear that the energy deficit immensely undermines life in Gaza, notably by hindering the population’s access to livelihoods, economic sectors and basic services, including healthcare.
Al Mezan reiterates its concerns of the serious humanitarian repercussions of the current energy crisis and condemns the tightening of unlawful closure policies by Israeli authorities, who, with their total control over Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, have deliberately targeted vital aid and supplies, thereby intentionally compounding Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.
Through its daily monitoring and field work during Israel’s May 2021 aggression against the Gaza Strip, Al Mezan determined that the conduct of the Israeli forces grossly and systematically violated international law and exacerbated the suffering of protected persons—either by directly targeting them, destroying their homes, or terrorizing them with unnecessary and disproportionate measures impacting civilians.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to urge Israel to stop its discriminatory policies targeting Palestinians, to repair the main electricity lines and to allow the entry of fuel and other aid into Gaza.
Al Mezan finds that the international community’s tolerance with Israeli grave and systematic violations of international law has further emboldened Israel to escalate its violations, and this is clearly evident in the tightening of its 14-year closure following a deadly full-scale military bombardment, and through other violations and discriminatory practices committed by Israel across the entire occupied Palestinian territory.