An Israeli power company has reduced its electricity supply to the occupied Palestinian city of Jericho over a debt dispute.
Hisham Omari, the director of the private Palestinian Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), said, “The Israel Electric Corporation reduced the power supply to a third of its capacity in the Jericho governorate.”
An official with the Israeli energy sector, whose name was not mentioned in the report, said the measure came after the Palestinian Authority and Omari’s JDECO failed to pay dues that currently amount to about USD 450 million (397 million euros).
“We’ve informed all the relevant parties, and after endless attempts to reach arrangements, we’ve decided to act to reduce the debt,” said the Israeli official adding that the Jericho move was “open-ended.”
The Israeli move will disrupt daily lives and stop factory activity in the area. Omari said it was “collective punishment against the Palestinian people.”
The JDECO director said he sent a letter to the office of the Palestinian prime minister to “immediately intervene to stop this measure.”
Ongoing talks, he said, between the IEC and the Palestinian Authority have so far failed to settle the debt issue.
Palestinian economy has been struggling due to restrictions imposed by the Israeli regime in much of the occupied territories in the West Bank.
The move by the Israeli company is not new. Over a similar debt, the IEC cut power to Palestinian cities for a number of hours every day in January 2015.
Cut in power supply as tensions run high
The reduction in the electricity supply to Jericho comes as tensions have been high in the occupied territories since August 2015, when Tel Aviv imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
More than 200 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October 2015.