Against the background of 14 years of an illegal Israeli blockade and the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Gaza Strip, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said today that it was extremely concerned about the closure of Gaza’s lone power plant since last Tuesday due to Israel’s ban on entry of fuel into Gaza among other punitive Israeli measures.
“The closure of the power plant has caused the power feed to decline to two to three hours per day, followed by 20 hours of interruption. Such poor power feed will negatively impact on the wellbeing and safety of the people of Gaza. It will also have devastating effects on Gaza’s vital services, including hospitals, thus putting the lives and health of nearly two million people, including 1.4 million registered Palestine refugees, at risk,” said the UN agency in a press release.
Under International Humanitarian Law, the passage of all relief consignments, in this case fuel for electricity, should not be prevented, it said.
“We are calling on all concerned parties to maintain a supply of electricity that is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Matthias Schmale.
UNRWA said, furthermore, that it was concerned about other measures perceived as punitive to the civilian population, such as closing down the fishing zone, as well as the escalating tensions and military activities, including air raids for more than ten nights in a row.
“All parties must show utmost restraint and protect the civilian population with full respect for their dignity and human rights,” added Schmale.
Renewed tension between Gaza and Israel after months of calm raised concern of a military escalation in the region and further hardships to the two million impoverished population in the besieged sea enclave.