Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, November 2013
Falk calls for urgent action to solve Gaza's power crisis and avert its impacts
[ 27/11/2013 - 03:08 PM ]
UN special rapporteur Richard Falk called for urgent action to address the power crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip that has left 1.7 million of its residents in a dire situation.
"The situation in Gaza is at a point of near catastrophe," the UN official, who was appointed by the UN human rights council to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, warned in a press release on Tuesday.
"The fuel shortage and power cuts have undermined an already precarious infrastructure, severely disrupting the provision of basic services, including health, water and sanitation. The onset of winter is certain to make things even worse," he warned further.
He underlined that only less than half of Gazaís total power needs are met, which disrupts specialized health services, such as kidney dialysis, operating theatres, blood banks, intensive care units and incubators.
Falk also highlighted the plight of Gazan patients who are unable to seek affordable specialized medical treatment in Egypt as a result of its closure of the Rafah border crossing since the military coup.
"We must not forget that the underlying cause of a lack of adequate medical facilities and specialized care in Gaza is a consequence of Israelís illegal blockade," Falk said.
He emphasized that, under the present conditions, Israel has a special responsibility under international humanitarian law to take whatever measures necessary to protect the civilian population of Gaza against this mounting threat to their wellbeing.
"The failure to do so would be an aggravated instance of collective punishment, which is unconditionally prohibited by the fourth Geneva convention," Falk cautioned.
"For the past two weeks, approximately 3,000 residents, including children, living in or near the Gazan neighborhood of Azzeitoun have been wading through raw sewage on the streets after the largest sewage treatment facility in the area overflowed due to a power failure," he stated.
He also noted that other sewage treatment stations may soon run out of fuel for generators, which will result in more sewage overflowing onto the streets of Gaza.
The human rights official expressed his belief that the main trigger for the latest humanitarian crises in Gaza is Egyptís ongoing crackdown on the vast network of tunnels and fuel tanks near the southern border of Gaza, which were used by the Gazans to avoid some of the hardships associated with the Israeli blockade imposed since 2007.
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