Monday, February 11, 2008

11-Feb-08: Electricity and appropriate assurances

Finally - a powerful, uncompromising statement that's long overdue, given the deadly chaos that characterizes the jihadist Gaza Strip and its appalling regime:
We are ready to resume our support to the Gaza power plant within hours once we receive the appropriate assurances...
Only it's not the government of Israel speaking.

First, the context. (Thanks, David.) This past summer, at the very peak of the unbearable heat that bakes the houses and inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, the European Union caused a shut-down of electric power to the area. Meaning: no coolers, no air conditioners, no bottling plants. As the International Herald-Tribune wrote at the time:
"Power outages are nothing new in Gaza, where electricity reserves have long been unreliable. But the current one is particularly long... Gaza's latest electricity woes began last week, when Israel closed a fuel crossing into the coastal territory because of security concerns, leading to power shortages. Israel reopened the passage Sunday, but the plant's Israeli fuel supplier didn't deliver fuel after the European Union said it would not foot the bill. Although private generators and sporadic supplies from the Israeli and Egyptian companies that power the rest of the strip have eased the blackout, affected neighborhoods and cities have had only a few hours of electricity a day."
This was August 2007 - six months ago. The European Commission said it had information that Hamas was diverting electricity revenues. (And we know how very sensitive the European bureaucracy is about its money being wasted.) As a result, as IHT's article at the time describes, hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents were forced to make do without electricity as they
"became the latest victim of feuding between Gaza's Hamas rulers and their rivals from Fatah. European donors stopped paying key electricity aid over the weekend, concerned that Hamas is siphoning off revenues. As Fatah and Hamas traded charges of corruption, at least half of Gaza's 1.4 million people were plunged into darkness. "We are ready to resume our support to the Gaza power plant within hours once we receive the appropriate assurances that all the funds will be exclusively used for the benefit of the Gaza population," the European Commission - the EU's executive branch - said in a statement."
We looked long and hard for the words "humanitarian crisis" in the IHT report. Somehow couldn't find them. Most likely our search engine was temporarily broken. (Incidentally, yesterday, under the heading "Timeline of Gaza's Electricity Crisis", Associated Press put out a useful summary so people can put matters in perspective, starting from 2006. Unfortunately, politically-inspired perspective and agenda-driven reportage being what they are, the summer 2007 European blackout of Gaza is somehow overlooked in AP's narrative.)

Now back to today's reality. On Friday, after the matter had been taken up and down Israel's government and administrative checks-and-balances system, including a prolonged visit at the High Court of Justice (which ruled that it's OK to do this), Israel cut back for the first time on its supply of electric power to Gaza. The reduction at this stage is ONE per cent, as we noted earlier, and it's explicitly a carrot-and-stick tactic. As one Israeli military official said last week: "Israel will continue gradually scaling back electricity until the territory's Hamas rulers end the rocket fire... It's their choice. They need to choose if they want to keep investing in rockets and in attacking Israel or if they want electricity from Israel".

When you're living next door to jihadist barbarians with an open agenda (see Friday's Haaretz article "Hamas: Expect terror wave in Israel") of increasing their murderous attacks on you and on the very power stations where you create electricity for them, cutting their electricity seems a wise and humane alternative to bombing their cars and homes.

But not necessarily to the arbiters of civilized behaviour sitting safely with their children far from the scene. Like the Brits for instance.
Britain criticizes Gaza power cuts
Britain yesterday criticized Israel's cut of 1 percent of the power it supplies to the Gaza Strip, and urged Israel to reverse the decision, which was made in the wake of rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israeli communities. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement that he was extremely concerned by the cut. "We believe that such action risks a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza without improving the security situation. Without a steady supply of electricity, hospitals cannot function, pumping stations and sewage systems fail and access to clean water is denied," Miliband said. He urged Israel to immediately reverse its decision, "to avoid any further planned cuts and to fulfill its obligations under international law."
This isn't a swipe at the British, necessarily. We have our share of prize boobs here in this country too, like an especially clever former minister in the Israeli government quoted yesterday saying Israel ought to consider "reaching a cease-fire with Hamas, instead of stupid acts" as he called the power cut.

Yes, a cease-fire would surely be better, far better, than bombing them and cutting one per cent of their power supply. A pity the Islamicists of Gaza City and the West Bank don't see it that way.

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