ACRI’s public hotline received reports of frequent and prolonged electricity cuts in Neighborhood 25 in the town of Rahat in the Negev. Residents reported that the electricity in their neighborhood (and other neighborhoods in the town) is frequently cut and often out, and that this process has gone on intermittently for more than a year.
Life without electricity has become unbearable for residents, particularly babies, children, and the elderly, especially in light of weather conditions in the region during the height of summer. The power cuts adversely affect the health of the elderly and infirm, and also cause serious financial losses: electrical devices are irreversibly damaged from the sudden power cuts, food and medicine go bad, and the residents – most of whom live in poverty - must throw them away. According to residents, the Israel Electric Company is not making any attempts to remedy the situation.
On August 26, 2019 ACRI contacted the Electricity Authority and the Ministry of Energy’s Attorney General demanding that the electricity be restored in the neighborhood immediately. Reut Shaer, from ACRI’s legal division, noted that the ongoing situation impinges on residents’ rights to live in dignity, and that it is their right to access equitable services and infrastructure, like all other citizens in Israel.
In its response to ACRI, the Israel Electric Company (IEC) claimed that it is doing more than enough to bolster the infrastructure, stating that it continues to attempt to increase the power supply in the neighborhood. The IEC response collectively blamed residents for the existence of illegal electricity connections in the neighborhood, and for behaving violently when technicians came to the neighborhood to try to resolve the problem.
ACRI is of the opinion that not all residents – children, the elderly, and working people – should be punished for violations that may have been committed by a handful of people. If there was an actual illegal diversion of electricity, there are different ways to handle the issue; denying residents electricity by neglecting the infrastructure is not a legitimate means of applying pressure and is simply unacceptable. ACRI will continue to track this matter.