Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz instructed the Israel Electric Corporation Sunday to restore regular power supply to Gaza starting Monday due to the "Palestinian Authority's willingness to renew payments." The decision had been reached in coordination with the security establishment.
In response, the family of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, whose body is held by Hamas, attacked the government. "The Israeli government headed by (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and the Cabinet ministers decided today to once again surrender to Hamas in not conditioning the return of regular power supply to Gaza on returning soldiers Oron (Shaul, whose body is also still held by Hamas—ed) and Hadar," a message from the Goldin family said.
"It's folly that the State of Israel is time and time again abandoning the soldiers it sent into battle to their fate," the Goldin family continued.
"Our stance is clear," the fallen soldier's family declared. "Every humanitarian effort undertaken by either Israel or the international community vis-à-vis Gaza must be conditioned on the immediate return of Oron and Hadar home."
Leah Goldin, Hadar's mother, also appealed directly to the residents of the Gaza Strip. "Mothers, fathers and children—kidnapping bodies is unacceptable, inhumane and not humanitarian. Every mother would want to visit her son's grave, and not allowing Hadar to be buried is a crime under Islamic law.
"This cynical use of the bodies is also an affront to the human conscience. Do not be taken hostage by the Hamas terrorist organization," Leah Goldin requested.
In addition to the family's announcement, the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) published a post on its Arabic-language Facebook page saying, "The Israeli Cabinet approved in principle in addition of 100 megawatts to the strip more than a year ago—but the humanitarian issue runs both ways."
"The bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin—still held in Gaza—are a humanitarian issue of the highest magnitude. Israel will therefore not act rashly to grant final approval for the 100-megawatt increase before the Israeli humanitarian issue of returning (the bodies) and the Israeli citizens still held captive in Gaza is addressed," COGAT said.
The issue surrounding electricity in Gaza started this past June, when the Palestinian Authority (PA) sought to reduce supply—and its monthly payment for it—from NIS 40 million to NIS 25 million.
Now with the PA willing to renew payments, Minister Steinitz instructed power to be restored.
Ten high voltage powers lines currently exist that are capable of providing up to 120 megawatts to the Gaza Strip. Now, with Steinitz's instruction to be implemented, the power lines will be recalibrated to operate at full capacity starting Monday.
The cost of Gaza power consumption had been estimated to be NIS 40 million per month, which Israel then offsets from tax money collected from the PA.
The Gaza power crisis originally erupted in April 2017, when the PA announced to COGAT it will no longer be paying for the power Israel provided Gaza. In return for renewing power payments, the PA demanded to receive from Hamas civilian control of Gaza and the border crossings into the isolated enclave as well as taxes collected by Hamas from its residents for the services the PA provides—such as levies on health and goods.