Israel Warns to Disconnect Power to Northern, Southern West Bank

RAMALLAH, February 26, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli Electric Company (IEC) has warned that it would disconnect power to vast areas in northern and southern West Bank due to piling debts on the Palestinian Authority, according to the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority.

Acting Head of Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority Dhafer Melhm said they were informed by IEC that electricity supplied to the Palestinian population centers would be reduced by 50%.

Melhm did not provide any further details about when electricity would be disconnected.

If the IEC carries out the threat, the Hebron district in the southern West Bank as well as the northern West Bank districts of Nablus, Salfit, Qalqilya, Tubas, Tulkarem and Jenin will plunge into darkness.

Electricity provided to the Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho districts would not be cut off as the dispute between the Palestinian Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) and IEC is still being litigated.

This was the final warning given by the IEC, which would disconnect electricity next times without any prior warning.

Israel cut off Wednesday electricity for an hour to Nablus and Jenin districts in northern West Bank from 2pm to 3pm due to the accumulation of debt to the IEC. This was the second time in a week that Israel disconnects electricity to northern West Bank.

While Israeli media said the cuts did not entail a complete shutdown of electricity flow, but a reduction in the wattage, Melhm said that the power was shut completely instead of reduced.

He said that the Palestinian side was informed of a reduction instead of a complete shutdown, however in reality the flow of power was completely shut, putting to a halt all daily activities including surgeries in hospitals.

IEC reduced on Monday for the first time the amount of electricity supplied to the occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of the large debt owed to them by Palestinian Power Company and Palestinian government, a sum that exceeds 1.8 billion shekels (around $470 million).

However, the Palestinian Authority said that the number is exaggerated.

According to Haaretz, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen voiced strong opposition to the IEC’s decision, citing the potentially high humanitarian and diplomatic costs the blackouts would cause.