|Israel must immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, including by allowing the delivery of fuel and other essential supplies into the territory without restrictions, said Amnesty International today. |
For the last month, all of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents have been living without power for most of the time and in the shadow of a public health catastrophe, after their sole power plant was forced to shut down, causing the failure of several sewerage and water plants.
“This latest harsh setback has exacerbated the assault on the dignity of Palestinians in Gaza and the massive denial of rights they have experienced for more than six years because of Israel’s blockade, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“The blockade has collectively punished Gaza’s population in violation of international law. The power plant shutdown has further affected all aspects of daily life, and the Israeli authorities must lift the blockade immediately, starting by allowing urgently needed fuel supplies into the Strip and working with all relevant parties to avert a prolonged humanitarian crisis this winter.”
The power plant, which until recently supplied 30 per cent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity, ran out of diesel fuel on 1 November. The resulting shutdown has exacerbated an ongoing water and sanitation crisis and has left Gaza residents without power for 16 hours a day.
At a Glance
- 28 June 2006 – Israeli aircraft fired eight missiles into the Gaza power plant, destroying all six of its transformers and putting it out of operations. Israeli restrictions on imports of construction materials, equipment and spare parts obstructed repairs to the plant, and it has yet to regain the generation capacity it had prior to the attack.
- October 2007 – Following a cabinet decision, Israel reduced the amount of industrial diesel fuel sold to the Gaza Strip by around 20 per cent, and also cut sales of petrol and regular diesel. The Gaza power plant depended on industrial diesel imported from Israel and was forced to cut back operations.
- January 2008 – Israel’s High Court of Justice denied a petition by human rights organizations against the restrictions on fuel supply to the Gaza Strip, after the government commited to allowing industrial diesel imports of 2.2 million litres per week, only about two-thirds of the amount needed for the power plant to operate at its full capacity.
- November 2008 – Israel suspended imports of industrial diesel fuel, along with regular diesel, petrol and cooking gas, into Gaza; only a fraction of the needed amounts were supplied in November and December 2008.
- 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 – Israel’s air strikes and ground offensive during Operation “Cast Lead” severely damaged civilian infrastructure across the Strip, including electrical, water and sewage facilities. Afterwards, repairs of crucial infrastructure were again hampered by Israeli restrictions on imports.
- Since January 2011, no industrial diesel fuel has been imported to Gaza from Israel, due in part to disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over payment and taxes; the power plant has instead relied on regular diesel fuel brought into Gaza via the tunnels from Egypt.