On Thursday, 14 April 2016, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a special conference titled, “Conclusion of Lightening Gaza Campaign “. The conference was attended by a group of experts representing the concerned parties supervising the electricity sector, electricity experts, representatives from Civil Society organizations and journalists.
Mr. Khalil Shaheen, Director of PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, moderated the conference, which came as a conclusion of the “Lightening Gaza” Campaign activities. Khalil explained that the electricity crisis is political and the campaign’s demands are summed up in keeping civilians away from the political conflict and guaranteeing them their right to electricity services, which they pay for, on the basis of distributive justice. He added that efforts exerted by PCHR and partner organizations supervising the camapign are complementary to others’ efforts in finding solution for the crisis. Shaheen said, “we are the right claimers and those administrating the electricity sector are duty bearers. Therefore, they should provide civilians with the basic services and whoever fails to offer this should quit.”
Engineer Fathi al-Shaikh Khalil, Deputy Director of the Energy Authority and Chairman of Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo), said that political disputes negatively affect the electricity sector in the Gaza Strip ,indicating that resolving political disputes and ending the internal political split would contribute to uniting the parties in responsible for the electricity sector. Moreover, this would make it easier to apply the campaign recommendations.
Engineer Rafiq Malihah, Director of Gaza Power Plant, pointed out that the electricity crisis requires strategic solutions to overcome it, and all measures should be then taken in order to avoid further deterioration in the electricity situation. Malihah also indicated that the Gaza Power Plant faces major difficulties not faced by similar power plants. For example, Israeli forces targeted several times the power plant and the closure that prevents the entry of equipment needed for the plant’s maintenance in addition to the taxes imposed on fuel needed to operate the plant. Malihah explained that all of the above mentioned reduces the Power Plant production and raises the production cost.
Dr. Fadel al-Muzzaini, a researcher at PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, reviewed the stages of “lightening Gaza” campaign and activities conducted by the working group. Al-Muzzaini added that the Campaign petition included a number of important recommendations reached in various panel discussions and activities held by PCHR within the Campaign. The petition received positive reaction from civil society organizations and public figures in the Gaza Strip. Al-Muzzaini calls upon the National Unity government and parties administrating the electricity sector to adopt the petition recommendations to ease the aggravating crisis and improve the power-on hours.
Nidaa’ Wishah, member of the campaign working group, reviewed the campaign’s activities and stages during the last three months and presented a video documenting all the campaign activities, including field and media activities, workshops, and panel discussions that were held to conclude the petition recommendations.
The lightening Gaza Campaign petition was opened for signature to those participated in the conference. Those who signed hoped that the recommendations would be adopted on condition that the later would be a prelude to think about finding strategic solutions for returning the electricity services to all the residents of the Gaza Strip 24 hours a day on the base of each Palestinian’s right to have access to the necessary basic services, including the electricity services.
It was agreed on the importance of following up the campaign recommendations via an independent technical committee formed by PCHR and comprised of representatives from human rights and civil society organizations and independent professional figures with experience in the electricity field after consultation with the parties administrating the electricity sector.