Ref: 20/2012


 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned
over the current power crisis in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza power plant stopped working
yesterday as the fuel required for it operation ran out completely, which has
caused long periods of outages throughout the Gaza Strip.  The Gaza Strip is also suffering an acute
shortage of fuel supplies and most fuel stations have ran out of fuel as a
result.  PCHR expresses deep concerns
over the disastrous repercussions of this crisis on the Palestinian civilian
population, and its direct impacts on all vital services, especially drinking
water supplies and health and sanitation facilities. 

 

 

The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company announced that, as the
operation of the Gaza power plant was totally stopped on Tuesday, 14 February
2012, which has increased the electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip to 65% of the
daily needs, it faces unprecedented serious challenges.  The Company further pointed out in its
statement that it will facing severe technical complications in the
distribution of electricity to consumers, stressing that electricity supplies to
various areas will be limited to 6 hours followed by 12 hours of outages
daily. 

 

The Ministry of Health in Gaza declared it is in a state of crisis since
the operation of Gaza power plant stopped, suffering from an acute shortage in
fuel supplies needed for the operation of electricity generators at hospitals
and health care facilities.  Mr. Bassam
Barhoum, Director of the General Supplies Stores of the Ministry of Health in
Gaza, stated that the long periods of outages are combined with an acute shortage
of fuel at hospitals across the Gaza Strip. The fuel deficit has risen to 72%
while there is an urgent need to operate the electricity generators at
hospitals and health care facilities.  He
added that the level of fuel consumption at all hospitals has been 815 liters
per hour.

 

Mr. Ashraf al-Qidra, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health, emphasized
that more than 80% of patients in the Gaza Strip are threatened by a deterioration
of their health conditions due to the power outages and the decreasing strategic
stock of fuel required for the operation of electricity generators at hospitals
and health care facilities.  He further
warned of a health disaster that may directly affect all patients in vital
departments of hospitals whose treatment depend on the availability of
electricity supplies, especially prematurely born infants in incubators, who
are currently more than 100. Also at risk are more than 400 patients suffering
from renal failure, including 15 children, who need dialyses twice or three
times a week; and 66 patients who are currently placed in intensive care
units.  Al-Qidra indicated that 39
operation rooms, in addition to emergency and reception departments, gynecology
departments, laboratories, and radiology departments in all hospitals of the Gaza
Strip will become completely paralyzed if the crisis does not come to an
end. 

 

On its part, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) warned
in a statement published on its website on Tuesday, 14 February 2011, of its
inability to supply water to people in appropriate amounts if the crisis of
outages continues to persist.  It pointed
out that in spite of CMWU’s ongoing efforts to operate wells and pumping plants
during periods of outages, they cannot solve the problem because it is
impossible to establish consistency between schedules of water distribution and
schedules of electricity distribution in various areas in the Gaza Strip due to
the long periods of outages, which causes disruption in the regular program of
supplying areas with water, and thus impacts all aspects of life of people in
the Gaza Strip.

 

It is worth noting that the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza
announced that the operation of the Gaza power plant was totally stopped on
Tuesday morning, 14 February 2012, due to the lack of fuel. The Energy
Authority alleged that the lack of fuel is due to the intentional measures
taken to prevent the delivery of fuel to Gaza. 
It should be noted that the operation of the Gaza power plant used to depend
on industrial fuel imported from Israel. 
Due to frequent closures of border crossing and denial of regular supply
of fuel, in addition to the high fuel price, the Palestinian Energy Authority
stopped importing industrial fuel from Israel in January 2011.  Instead, it decided to bring Egyptian fuel
from Egypt through tunnels along the Palestinian – Egyptian border, as its
technicians succeeded in adapting its use for the operation of the Gaza power
plant.   

 

In light of the above, PCHR:

 

1. Warns of the serious consequences of the total shutdown of the Gaza
power plant and the resulting impact on the access of 1.6 million Palestinians
to vital services, including the supply of drinking water, and on the work in
some vital sectors such as health, sanitation, and education;

2. Stresses the responsibility and obligations of the State of Israel,
as the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip, according to international
humanitarian law, regarding the wellbeing of the civilian population in the
occupied territory, and accordingly, it is required to allow the passage of
basic materials, included the fuel needed for the operation of Gaza power plant,
and is prohibited from imposing restrictions on the entry of basic materials
into the occupied territory and using such restrictions as a form of collective
punishment against the civilian population;

3. Calls upon all the concerned parties, including the two Palestinian
governments in Gaza and Ramallah and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company,
to exert all possible and necessary efforts to provide fuel needed to
re-operate the Gaza power plant, and to ensure the continued operation of the
plant;

4. Reiterates that it is necessary to immediately look for strategic
solutions for ending the ongoing power crisis which has been affecting the Gaza
Strip for approximately 6 years; and

5. Stresses that Palestinian civilians must not bear the brunt of the
failure of the parties responsible for this crisis. Thus, these parties must be
committed to provide Palestinian civilians with power services under all
circumstances.