BTSelem Report – Act of Vengeance: Israel’s Bombing of the Gaza Power Plant 2006

In June 2006, The Israeli air force bombed the only electricity power plant in the Gaza Strip, causing an immediate power stoppage and irregular power supply afterwards. This Status Report by B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, offers an extensive overview of the effects of this attack on the residents of Gaza, and subsequently examines the legality of the bombing and the possible responsibilities of the Israeli government for the damages incurred.

Damages included spoiled food, water shortage, hygienic and infrastructural problems. Medical care in Gaza has been seriously impaired due to the electricity shortage, resulting in damages to hospitalised people whose treatment has been interrupted and people not being able to get treatment.

The report qualifies the attack as ‘illegal’ under International Humanitarian Law, due to a lack of definite military advantage and proportionality. Furthermore, according to B’Tselem, the attack is to be considered a “war crime”. The report finds that Israel should pay compensation for the damages, but at the same time acknowledges the practical and legal obstacles to obtaining such compensation. It is far from clear who could make a claim, before which court, and basing herself on which law.

The report concludes that Israel is liable for damages not only on the basis of the illegality of the bombing, but also because of its general obligation, as an occupying force, to ensure proper living conditions to the residents of the Gaza strip.