(photo credit: REUTERS)
The quasi-governmental Israel Electric Company temporarily reduced power to Hebron on Tuesday as part of a series of rolling brownouts to Palestinian cities in the last week. The move follows similar cuts made to Jericho and Bethlehem.
The IEC plans to continue with the temporary outages in Area A cities in the West Bank in an effort to collect the NIS 1.74 billion it is owed by the PA .
“I know of no other company that would agree to give up and do nothing about a NIS 1.74 billion debt. It’s time to put an end to a situation in which debts grow. We do not have any choice but to proportionally limit power in an immediate way. I urge those in positions of authority to help us to collect the debts,” IEC chairman Yiftah Ron Tal said on Tuesday.
The director of the Arab Jerusalem District Electricity Company, Hisham al-Omari, said that the Palestinian Authority government hasn’t responded about its 500 million NIS debt, which is about one third of what his firm owes the IEC.
“The situation is very dangerous and requires urgent action to stop Israel’s decision to decrease the flow of electricity to Palestinian communities,” al-Omari told Palestine Radio. He urged the Ramallah government to make a partial debt payment to his company.
Al-Mari explained the ballooning debt is the result of the failure of Palestinians living in villages and refugee camps in the West Bank to pay their electricity bills.
Palestinians who have paid their bills are being punished as a result of the power outages initiated by the Israel Electricity Company, he said.
According to al-Omari, the crisis was currently being tackled politically and legally.
His remarks came after the IEC announced on Monday that it would cut by half the power it supplies to various areas in Bethlehem.
Last week, the company took a similar move against Jericho and its surrounding areas.
The IE C is the sole integrated electric utility in the State of Israel and generates, transmits and distributes substantially all the electricity used in Israel, and much of the power in the West Bank. The State of Israel owns approximately 99.85% of the company.