(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Justice Ministry on Thursday confirmed that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has approved in principle a plan to reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Kassam attacks, on condition that the flow is not completely cut off at any time and that residents are given ample warning to forestall any possible humanitarian crisis.
The official statement came in response to an article that appeared in Ma'ariv on Thursday morning which first reported the attorney-general's conditional decision.
According to the Justice Ministry statement, Deputy Attorney-General Malchiel Balass told a special planning committee headed by the Defense Ministry that Mazuz would approve the sanction if the army used regulators to diminish the flow of electricity according to a controlled system.
"In that way," media adviser Moshe Cohen wrote, "there will be a guarantee that the electricity supply is reduced but not completely cut off so that the harm caused will be the minimum necessary to safeguard humanitarian needs. This is in keeping with international law and the decision of the government which stated that the measures taken against Gaza would not cause humanitarian harm."
Mazuz was referring to the government decision of September 19 which declared Gaza a "hostile territory" and declared that it would take punitive measures, including imposing heavier restrictions on movement of civilians through the border crossings and cutbacks on the supply of power and fuel, in retaliation for Kassam attacks. Israel directly supplies 62.5 percent of Gaza's electricity and exports fuel which accounts for another 28% of Gaza's power supply.
The cabinet added that "the significance of the decision is that Israel will not supply anything more aside from Gaza's humanitarian needs."
The decision to cut electricity and fuel supplies was pending approval of the proposed measures by Mazuz. On October 29, Mazuz rejected the Defense Ministry's initial approval for cutting off electricity in the Gaza Strip, but gave the go-ahead for other measures, such as a reduction in fuel supplies. The cutback on fuel supplies went into effect immediately.
On Thursday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that Israel had cut the flow of industrial gasoline to the Gaza Strip in the first 12 days of November by 32%, compared to the first 12 days in October. Diesel fuel exports in the same two periods fell by 24%.
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