Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Israel Readying Plans For Cutting Power To Gaza (UPDATED)

Last month, Israel declared Gaza to be "hostile territory"--the idea being to cut off electricity and fuel, but now water, to Gaza in reaction to rockets fired at Israel.

The rockets have not stopped--now what?
The Defense Ministry is now completing a plan for harsh economic sanctions against the Hamas government in the Strip. The plan includes cutting electricity for several hours every time there is a Qassam rocket attack.

The security establishment decided a few days ago to cut electricity to the Beit Hanun area in the northern Strip in response to rocket fire, in keeping with a September cabinet decision to designate Gaza as "hostile territory." Power was to be cut for periods of two hours, during the evening or the night.

Meanwhile, at that same meeting, it was also decided that along with more stringent sanctions against the Strip, restrictions in the West Bank would be eased. Israel has recently removed 24 physical blockages, to ease movement of residents, as well as one permanent roadblock, Barak told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

Data was presented at the meeting stating that Israel has five electric lines going into the Gaza Strip. Four deliver power to an army base in the area of the Strip or to neighborhoods in Gaza City with hospitals, and therefore they cannot be shut down. The fifth line transmits power from Israel to Beit Hanun, the source of extensive rocket fire.

The defense establishment and the Israel Electric Corporation are working on possible joint steps involving power. A plan is to be presented soon to the government that would allow for power cuts that do not necessitate bombing of power stations, an action that would cause additional and long-term damage.
It's painful to read about Israel bending over backward to defend herself without putting any Palestinian Arabs at risk. After all, this is a war.

Just how far is Israel ready to go--or not go. According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: very far:

Speaking at an Atlanta synagogue Sunday, Ginsburg noted that the former president of Israel’s high court, Aharon Barak, had said that while the U.S. had its Sept. 11, “we’ve had our 9/12, our 9/13 and so on. And yet we have strived mightily to remember what we stand for as a nation.”

Ginsburg said that when the Israeli justices were asked if authorities could torture someone who knew when and where a bomb would go off, “The answer of the Supreme Court of Israel was unequivocal: torture never.”

Of course in this day and age, one man's torture is another man's physical coercion. I'd like to think that in Ginsburg's hypothetical scenario, Israel would not shy away from the use of coercion to save lives.

I'd also like to think that if this business of designating Gaza a 'hostile territory' has any teeth to it, that Israel is willing to do more than just deprive Palestinian Arabs of some late night TV.

UPDATE: Another example of Israel not making full use of the tools available to deal with "hostile territory" that is trying to kill its citizens:
Two Israeli banks decided within the last month to end services to Gaza in view of the government's decision to designate the Hamas-controlled region as an "enemy entity" – but the Bank of Israel is blocking the move.

The Bank has ordered Bank HaPoalim to postpone its decision to cut off operations in the Gaza region until an alternative is found for the local population.

Bank of Israel officials said this week that they fear a cash flow problem would exacerbate problems in Gaza. [emphasis added]
Yes, that would be the idea.

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