Israel Is Preventing Repair of the Electrical, Water, and Sewage Systems in Gaza


Despite Promises to Facilitate Humanitarian Aid, Policy of Deliberate Obstruction Continues Even after the Ceasefire:

  • The amount of industrial diesel Israel has permitted to enter Gaza is just 64% of the total needed to operate the power station.
  • Since the fighting ended, Israel has totally obstructed the transfer of vital spare parts needed to repair the electrical, water, and sewage systems.
  • As a result, 1/4 million people have been without electricity in Gaza for the past month; power outages span 16-18 hours a day for the others.
  • More than 200,000 people have no access to running water; the rest get water for only a few hours every 2-5 days.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 — Ten days after the ceasefire, and despite promises to permit humanitarian aid to reach Gaza residents, Israel is continuing its deliberate policy of restricting supply of industrial diesel and humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip.  The policy, in place for the past 15 months, is preventing the supply of electricity to humanitarian facilities in Gaza.

As a result of the restrictions on the supply of industrial diesel and the mass devastation caused by the military operation, 1/4 million people have been entirely without electricity for over a month, and more than 200,000 people are denied access to running water.  Those who receive electricity suffer power outages of 16-18 hours per day, on average.

Ihab Abu Zaiter, a 32-year-old father of three, living east of Jabaliya, whose home was partially destroyed in the bombings, has been living entirely without electricity for the past month: “We don’t buy any food that requires refrigeration; it’s like living in the Middle Ages,” he said.  “We light a fire inside the house in order to keep the children warm.  This is a very cold month, and we can’t sleep without the fire, but I’m afraid that the rest of the house will catch fire or that the children will burn themselves.”

The amount of industrial diesel that has been transferred since the ceasefire represents just 64% of the total required to fully operate the power station.  In addition, Israel is continuing to impede the transfer of thousands of spare parts which are desperately needed to ensure repairs and the operation of the electrical, water, and sewage systems.  Some of the parts have been “stuck” in warehouses on the Israeli side for months.

Among these spare parts are 38 transformers which are essential for the repair of the electrical system, following the destruction of more than 100 transformers during the bombing.  During the military operation, Israel permitted the supply of a bare minimum of spare parts to the electricity company’s warehouse in Gaza — but four days later it bombed the warehouse, destroying much of the equipment.  Since then, Israel has not allowed any spare parts to be supplied to the electrical system.

According to Nedal Touman, Project Manager at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co. (GEDCO): “Our inventory has been completely empty for the past few months.  Israel is not permitting the entry of spare parts that we purchased and which have been stuck for months at Karni Crossing.  Without the spare parts, we cannot repair the badly-damaged electricity system in Gaza, meaning that 1.5 million people will continue to suffer.”

According to Adv. Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement: “The deliberate withholding of supplies from Gaza for the past 15 months is what pushed its residents to a humanitarian collapse.  If Israel’s stated intention to permit aid to the population of Gaza is genuine, it should prove it by immediately opening the Strip’s crossings to the supply of fuels and goods.”

Click here to view a PowerPoint Presentation about obstruction of supplies to Gaza’s electrical system.

Gisha is an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.  This report was published by Gisha on 28 January 2009.