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'No Country Provides Electricity to the Enemy in Wartime'

Movement for Governability and Democracy slams fact that legal advisers are blocking tactical move that could save lives.
By Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 7/11/2014, 1:04 PM

Gaza electricity workers (file)
Gaza electricity workers (file)
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu admitted Thursday to members of the Security Committee that harsh steps, such as cutting off the water and electricity to Gaza in response to the incessant rocket fire, are being opposed by the government's legal advisers.

Following the admission, the Movement for Governability and Democracy harshly criticized the fact that the IDF is being limited in its operational capacity by the legal system, a situation that in the end harms the security of Israeli citizens.

According to the legal adviser of the Movement, Attorney Simcha Rotman, "the international law that obligates in a time of war is the customary international law. In other words, the way that countries of the world conduct themselves in times of war."

"Providing electricity, water and fuel to an enemy at a time of war is a move that no country in the world takes, and therefore no legal source has the right to block the state of Israel" from cutting off the supplies, argued Rotman.

The attorney added "the involvement of the courts and legal advisers in strategic, tactical military decisions is invalid, and stopping it is a worthy goal."

Yehuda Amrani, chairperson of the Movement for Governability and Democracy, requested that Security Committee Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) check if legal advisers indeed are tying the hands of the IDF from acting fully against the enemy.

"It's a very serious matter that the opinion of jurists foils military action," wrote Amrani in a letter to Elkin.

Amrani added "this could threaten lives on both sides. For example, it could be that cutting off the electric stream to the (Gaza) Strip would allow the IDF to complete its goals with a lower use of firepower, and on the other hand reduce the abilities of the terror organizations."

The tactical move to cut off electricity to Gaza was called for by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) on Wednesday, when he said "you cannot fight Hamas on the one hand and provide electricity and fuel to transport the missiles fired at us on the other."

Likewise, MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) on Thursday proposed "cutting off their power for one day for each rocket attack."

Israel provides 100 megawatts of electricity to Gaza on a regular basis, much of which is purchased by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which owes Israel 1.4 billion shekels (nearly half a billion dollars) for unpaid electric bills.

Several months ago, the director of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) called on the Israeli government to cut off the supply to the PA until it pays its debt.