It was encouraging to learn this weekend that the Israeli government, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, will increase the amount of power it transfers to Gaza. Six months ago, in a move designed to put pressure on Hamas, the Israeli government in concert with the PA imposed severe cuts on the electricity it transfers to Gaza. This latest decision will restore electricity transfers to their pre-cut levels.
We hope that this step will help reduce tensions in Gaza and open the door for further measures to relieve and improve the dire conditions there. Even before the cuts, Gaza was receiving less than half the power it needed to meet the needs of its residents.
While the cuts were in effect, the people of Gaza have suffered dramatic reductions in their already insufficient access to electricity. The cuts also led to severe rollbacks and shortages in many essential services, including health care and water treatment.
The cuts were controversial at the time, both for humanitarian and security reasons. Many Israeli security experts, including voices in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet, urged Israel not to cut power to Gaza last year. They cited concerns that worsening the humanitarian and economic situation could lead to greater unrest and violence.
Israel’s restoration of higher levels of electricity to Gaza is a preliminary but important step. Only a full-scale effort by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the international community to pursue a political solution can ultimately improve the situation for the people Gaza and bring an end to its ongoing humanitarian crisis.