On Tuesday, 20 March 2012, the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a new report on the impact of the
shortage of fuel and electrical outages on the life of the civilian population
in the Gaza Strip. The report addresses the disastrous conditions experienced
by the civilian population for the second consecutive month as a result of the
ongoing crisis of fuel and power. The report shows that the suffering of around
1.6 million Palestinian civilians living in the Gaza Strip has been aggravated.
It also shows that the main concern of all the population has become to look
for primitive means to provide their basic humanitarian needs, including health
services, sanitation, drinking water, cooking gas, access to education
facilities as well as transportation. Ensuring
such basic needs has become a difficult and complicated task, resulting in
additional financial burdens that the civilian population of the Gaza Strip
The report presents a chronological sequence of
the fuel crisis starting from the suspension of fuel supplies in mid last
February, the shutdown of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip and the power
outages experienced by the different parts of the Gaza Strip almost all day and
night. The report notes that cities of
the Gaza Strip have become semi-ghost towns and that civilians have suffered
repeated running out of drinking water due to the cutting off of electricity
required to pump water to high residential apartments or due to difficulties
faced by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) in operating water
wells and supplying water to houses. The
report points to the risks resulting from CMWU’s inability to dispose
wastewater in basins and inability to treat this water before pumping it to the
sea. The report further addresses the crisis in the transportation sector,
especially in the morning when students go to their schools and universities
and when workers go to their workplaces and in the afternoon when they return
to their homes. The report notes that
almost no vehicles are travelling in streets at night.
The report denounces the failure by the parties
responsible for the provision of fuel and electricity to fulfill their
obligations towards the civilian population in the Gaza Strip in view of the
continued deterioration of living conditions of civilians. In the report, PCHR calls upon these parties
to take immediate action and exert all possible efforts to ensure immediate
flow of fuel to the Gaza Strip, as well as to take all necessary measures,
including practical steps required for serious and effective coordination
between the Power Authority in Gaza and Ramallah, in order to ensure the prompt
delivery of fuel to Gaza Power Plant in Gaza and to spare civilians further
suffering and deterioration. The report notes that the current treatment of the
ongoing crisis shows the failure of the parties responsible for the power
sector in the Gaza Strip.
The report is concluded by presenting a number
of recommendations. In view of the data presented in the report, PCHR:
1. Calls for an immediate end to the suffering endured by the
civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR notes that civilians must not be responsible for the results of the
failure of parties responsible for the ongoing fuel crisis. Thus, responsible parties must be committed
to provide civilians with all types of fuel and with electricity under all
circumstances. These parties must take
prompt and immediate action in order to end the total darkness in the cities
and towns of the Gaza Strip and enable civilians in the Gaza Strip to their
right to free and descent life.
2. Warns of the serious consequences of the total suspension of
fuel 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 of some
vital sectors such as health, sanitation, education and transportation. PCHR reminds that the life of Palestinian
civilians is not a field for political wrangling and must never be a hostage
for political or financial interests.
3. Affirms that it is important to immediately start to put
strategic solutions for the ongoing fuel crisis and the chronic crisis in the
electricity sector that has been affecting the Gaza Strip for 6 years. These
solutions must include looking for alternative resources of fuel in order to
end the suffering endured by the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
4. Calls for unification of the energy authorities in Gaza and
Ramallah as a first step to end the aggravation of the fuel and electricity
crisis, and to exert all necessary efforts to ensure supplying fuel required
for the operation of Gaza Power Plant.
5. Calls upon the Energy Authority in Gaza to assume its legal
responsibility under the Statute of the Energy Authority, especially those
relative to coordination with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company and the
Gaza Power Plant in order to facilitate the provision of fuel and overcoming
the current crisis.
6. Calls upon the Palestinian President to personally intervene
immediately in order to reach a solution that ensure the provision of fuel to
Gaza, including the fuel required for the operation of Gaza Power Plant.
7. 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 obliged to allow the passage of
basic materials, including 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. The option to import fuel from Israel, as a
solution for the current crisis, must be one of the options presented especially
as the Egyptian fuel will be bought at international prices, while Egypt is
suffering from an internal fuel crisis, and as the Gaza Strip mainly depends in
the provision of its basic needs, including electricity and fuel, on Israel.