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  • A Palestinian man sells falafel as he uses a battery-powered light during power cut in the northern Gaza Strip August 26, 2019.

    A Palestinian man sells falafel as he uses a battery-powered light during power cut in the northern Gaza Strip August 26, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 August 2019

Even in a time of war, these sorts of collective punishments are banned under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As a "collective punishment," the Israeli government took retaliatory aim at Gaza’s electricity supply Monday ordering fuel shipments into the coastal region to be cut-in-half “until further notice” over alleged Palestinian rockets attacks against southern Israel on Sunday night.

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“We already are in a crisis and now the Israeli decision will make it worse. It will have a grave impact on the lives of 2 million people and on vital services such as hospitals,” Mohammad Thabet, a spokesman for the Gaza power company said.
 
Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the fuel reduction in advance of a security cabinet meeting amid Israel’s election campaign, which is seeing an increase in aggression and rhetoric against Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. 
 
A Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif Qanou accused Netanyahu’s administration of working to “export its internal crisis,” condemning the decision as an “arbitrary action,” which shows that Israel is not serious about implementing any Gaza Strip ceasefire understandings reached under the sponsorship of Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations.

Even in a time of war, these sorts of collective punishments are banned under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians.

The Israeli regime said the move was in response to three rockets launched on Sunday from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, two of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. The third rocket fell in an open area, the Israeli military said. There was no claim of responsibility.

Palestinian businesses can only rely on light during the daylight hours. Photo: MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar

Currently, residents get six hours of electricity followed by 12 hours of blackout. Gaza’s power company said the fuel cuts would decrease power time to only four-hour periods. 

Despite a shortage of electricity and constant blackouts being nothing new for Palestinians in Gaza, Abdul-Rahman Ali, a director for a group of kindergartens in Gaza, told Middle East Eye the power cuts especially affect children who have to spend hours in dark classrooms in 30-degree heat.

The Palestinian strip has been suffering under a 12-year-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade. The Israeli NGO Gisha told the Jerusalem Post that Gaza’s chronic shortage of electricity impacts homes, hospitals, factories and basic civilian infrastructure. 

“The power shortage also impacts the economy. When you have a business you are forced to buy a generator, and as the cost of electricity increases our incomes decrease,” Fadi Fayez al-Sharif, 28,  told MEE.

However, as Hamas’ spokesperson said Israel’s policy of “pressuring” the Palestinians “will not succeed and will even be counterproductive,” as the March of Return will continue until the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted.

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