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Israelis release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza

As the Israeli government begins implementing a decision to reduce the already insufficient electricity supply in Gaza, to just three hours a day, activists just across the border send a little symbolic light their way.

By Eli Bitan

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

After Israel announced that it had begun reducing the already insufficient electricity supply to Gaza on Monday, dozens of Israeli activists released 150 paper lanterns at Ashkelon beach, just north of the Strip, in solidarity with the residents of the besieged territory. Among the activists were Israeli residents who live in the towns surrounding Gaza, who joined the action to protest the potential humanitarian catastrophe on the other side of the fence.

A Palestinian woman washes dishes by candlelight during a power outage in a makeshift home in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, June 12, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A Palestinian woman washes dishes by candlelight during a power outage in a makeshift home in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, June 12, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

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The Israeli government announcement that it had begun reducing the electricity it sells to the Gaza Strip ostensibly fulfilled a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he was stopping to pay for the power Israel supplies to Gaza. The cuts would leave Gaza with around three hours of electricity a day.

According to Gisha, an Israeli legal NGO that focuses on Gaza, Israel has for years been selling 120 megawatts to Gaza — supplied through 10 power lines — with each line carrying 12 megawatts. On Monday morning, Israel cut supply on two lines from 12 to eight megawatts. Meanwhile, Israel continues to severely limit the import of generators and spare parts needed for their repair to Gaza, as well as import of transformers and equipment.

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Last Wednesday, a coalition of 16 civil society organizations sent an urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, emphasizing the unlawfulness of the cabinet decision to cut Gaza’s power supply under both Israeli and international law. The attorney general has yet to respond, and it is unknown whether there will be further reductions to the electricity supply.

Israeli activists write “Gaza” in the sand with paper lanterns during a protest in solidarity with the residents of Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists write “Gaza” in the sand with paper lanterns during a protest in solidarity with the residents of Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

This past week, over 3,200 activists called on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to prevent an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip. Maayan Dak, campaign manager for Zazim, the Israeli NGO behind Monday night’s action, told Local Call: “It has been nearly three years since the last war, and Israel is still preventing replacement parts for Gaza’s power station, which it bombed in 2014, from entering the Strip. Millions of people are living with four hours of electricity a day, at best. We cannot let this continue.”

Eli Bitan is a journalist in the ultra-Orthodox press in Israel, and is a blogger on Local Call, where this post was first published in Hebrew. Read it here.

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    1. Michele Reiter, Haydenville Massachusetts USA

      This was a lovely if symbolic gesture. The blackout is terrible, another insult to the dignity of the Palestinian people.

      Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      HAMAS is going to have to realize they can no longer conduct a deluxe terror war against Israel. They are no longer going to be able to take the money they receive as handouts from Israel, the Palestinian authority, the other Arab countries and the rest of the world and which they aren’t putting away in their Swiss bank accounts into their terrorist infrastructure. The people of Gaza have ONE address for their suffering..the HAMAS regime.

      I don’t think this writer has much credibility in any event. He wrote recently that the thinks the Arabs and the secular Israeli Left are the “natural allies” of the Haredim in their supposed struggle against the “Ashkenazi capitalists”.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      They had better send a letter to Mahmoud Abbas. However it is nice and romantic to light lanterns in the evening on the beach. We were used to do it in Switzerland with my friends 40 years ago by drinking and dancing.

      Reply to Comment