IDF retaliates for Gaza rockets by reducing Gaza electricity

After Sunday night's rockets, Israel decided to cut by half the electricity and fuel given to the resident of Gaza

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August 27, 2019 03:22
3 minute read.

IDF to Gaza: Don't let Iran exploit you to start war with Israel

IDF to Gaza: Don't let Iran exploit you to start war with Israel

The IDF took retaliatory aim at Gaza’s electricity supply Monday as it ordered diesel fuel shipments to be cut in-half “until further notice,” in response to three Palestinian rockets attacks against southern Israel on Sunday night.

Mohammad Thabet, spokesman for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO), described the Israeli decision as collective punishment.

“We already are in a crisis and now the Israeli decision will make it worse,” Thabet told Reuters. “It will have a grave impact on the lives of two million people and on vital services such as hospitals.”

Currently residents receive six hours of electricity followed by 12 hours of blackout. Thabet said the fuel cuts would decrease power time to only four-hour periods.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the fuel reduction in advance of a security cabinet meeting later in the day on the worsening security situation on all of Israel borders.

Hamas condemned the decision as an “arbitrary action,” which showed that Israel is not serious about implementing any Gaza Strip ceasefire understandings reached under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, said Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif Qanou.

The fuel reductions come in the midst of Israel’s election campaign, Qanou said, accusing Netanyahu’s government of working to “export its internal crisis.” Israel’s policy of “pressuring” the Palestinians “will not succeed and will even be counterproductive,” he added.

The Hamas spokesperson called on international mediators to put pressure on Israel to adhere to the terms of the ceasefire understandings. The protests every Friday near the Gaza-Israel border, known as the March of Return, will continue until the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, he added.

The Israeli NGO Gisha – the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement – argued against cutting Gaza electricity, in a letter sent to Netanyahu, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rukun.

“According to the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, unless Israel reverses its decision, one of the plant’s turbines will stop operating and the power plant will only produce about 40 megawatts,” it wrote. “Electricity supply to residents is likely to drop to only four consecutive hours at a time already this evening, or tomorrow morning, at the latest.”

Gisha said Gaza suffers from a chronic shortage of electricity, impacting homes, hospitals, factories and basic civilian infrastructure.

Fuel funded through a donation by Qatar has been entering the Strip via the Kerem Shalom Crossing since October 2018, and is used to operate three of the power plant’s four turbines, Gisha said.

“Israel must reverse this wrongful measure immediately and renew the full transfer of fuel to the Strip,” it added.

In an effort to sway Palestinians to halt the violence, Abu Rukun posted an Arabic message to Palestinians in Gaza.

“Hostile elements near and far, attempting to ignite a war, are dragging you into violence and destroying the stability and security of your home,” Abu Rukun wrote. “The Islamic Jihad, in the service of Iran, is causing destabilization again and again and harming the security of the area. You are the ones who will suffer the consequences.”

He spoke after Palestinians in Gaza launched three rockets at Israel on Sunday night. In return, Israel struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including the office of a Hamas battalion commander.

“Fire directed at Israel, and at Israeli citizens, will bring the appropriate response,” Abu Rukun wrote. “Israel will defend its citizens, regardless of what your leaders and their allies may do. Apparently the organizations in Gaza prefer the interests of Iran to your own interests. Deteriorating stability and damage to security will bring destruction and harm to the residents of Gaza as they continue to walk without light, and the guilt lies with those who are imposing terror and darkness on the Gaza Strip.”

Reuters and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.


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