Israel’s attack on Gaza’s only power plant yesterday shows the Jewish state is out to destroy the civilian infrastructure of the territory. The attack is a result of the realiSation that shelling and killing of women and children alone will not suffice to break the will of Hamas. But the targeting of the power plant marks a crucial departure from the Israeli military’s own stated policy in the past that it would not destroy critical non-military facilities. As the war intensifies and ceasefire efforts flounder, Israel is in a mood for revenge and wants to inflict maximum damage on the enemy.
The destruction of the power plant has thrown Gaza into darkness. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are without power and hundreds of thousands more face severe shortages. Between five and eight of the 10 power lines that bring electricity from Israel have been disabled and the continuing conflict means maintenance crew will not be able to reach the sites and do the repairs. The functioning of hospitals will be affected and more Palestinians will die.
The 22-day conflict has already claimed more than 1,200 people. The scale of humanitarian crisis in Gaza has shocked non-governmental organiSations. Israeli NGOs have said that more than half of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are now affected by a lack of adequate access to water and sanitation services. Raw sewage is spilling on to the streets from damaged pipes. The World Food Programme says more than 115,000 people in Gaza are in urgent need of food assistance. At the same time, as Israeli bombardments intensify, support for Palestinians is growing worldwide. “No power, no water, no hope,” tweeted the film star Mia Farrow. “Poor, poor Gaza and its people.”
An immediate ceasefire is unlikely though there have been fresh efforts. Both sides are unwilling to make concessions. Hamas said it was waiting for Israel to show its hand first. “When we have an Israeli commitment... on a humanitarian truce, we will look into it but we will never declare a truce from our side while the occupation keeps killing our children,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri said. He also said there would be no ceasefire without the stop of the aggression and the end of the siege. Netanyahu has said he would embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against the tunnels and “obviously not be disadvantaged for the great sacrifice they have made thus far.”
Israel is likely to continue the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and more bombs will rain on a besieged people. But it has think how many civilians it’s prepared to kill. And this massacre of women and children will not be without a heavy price•