UN human rights experts have welcomed the announcement that power cuts imposed on Gaza for the past six months were being lifted, but cautioned much more must be done to alleviate the human-caused suffering in Gaza.
On 7 January 2018, Israel began to resupply Gaza with 50 megawatts (MW) of power, which it had suspended last June at the request of the Palestinian Authority.
“This restoration of the pre-June 2017 levels of electricity will ease the suffering of the two million inhabitants of Gaza,” said the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Mr. Michael Lynk. “Over the past six months, Gazans have had access to power for only approximately four hours daily, and often less.
“However, much more is required,” he said. “We call upon all the responsible parties – Israel, the Palestinian Authority, as well the authorities in Gaza – to restore the conditions to allow a full supply of electricity to all Gazans. We also urge Israel, the occupying power, to end its decade-long blockade of Gaza.”
The electricity cut left homes without power to run basic appliances; workplaces were closed or reduced their productive hours; hospitals were shuttered and health care services were significantly reduced, with operating theatres dependent on generators; and Gaza’s sewerage plant could not operate resulting in over 100 million liters of raw sewage being dumped daily into the Mediterranean.
“Deprivation of electricity and other basic services essential to a life of dignity and well-being violates the right to housing,” said Leilani Farha, the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing. “This deprivation of power amounts to collective punishment of the Gazan population. This is illegal under international law.”
The Special Rapporteurs noted that Gaza requires between 450 and 500 MWs of electricity daily for a fully functioning economy and society. Even with the restoration of pre-June 2017 electrical power levels, Gaza will only receive or generate about 210 MWs of power daily, less than half of the daily required electrical power.