Fri 16 Feb 2024 11:22 am - Jerusalem Time

Energy sources: another Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip

International licenses for prospecting, exploration and extraction granted by Israel to foreign companies off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in areas under Palestinian control, which constitute another occupation of the Gaza Strip in addition to the land occupation.

Israel, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and children in its illegal occupation of Gaza and its war there, also occupies the region's resources through natural gas exploration licenses it grants to international companies.

On October 29, 2023, Israel announced the results of the tender it launched in December 2022 regarding gas exploration in Palestinian waters.

On that date, Israel intensified its attacks on the sector against which it was waging a devastating war, and this was interpreted as an attempt to divert attention from an illegal reality.

Within the scope of the tender, the Israeli government granted licenses to six local and international companies to explore for natural gas in Palestinian marine areas in accordance with international law.

The Legal Center for the Protection of the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel, “Adalah,” sent a letter to the Israeli Ministry of Energy on February 5, demanding the cancellation of natural gas exploration licenses granted in the area located within the maritime borders of Palestine.

Following Adalah's letter, licensed companies received warnings from Al-Mizan, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights not to engage in any activity in these areas.

Adalah's statement said: "Israel is an occupying regime in the Gaza Strip, and therefore it has complete control over the Palestinian maritime areas. Issuing the tender and granting subsequent exploration licenses in this area constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law and international norms."

It added: “Under recognized international law, Israel is prohibited from exploiting the limited non-renewable resources in the occupied territories for commercial gain and for the benefit of the occupying state, in accordance with the rules of usufruct, as referred to in Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, and accordingly, Israel is prohibited from depleting natural resources.” ".

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement that the tender covered a very large area, but areas G, E, and H shown on the map were controversial.

SOCAR, Neomed Energy and BP won the exploration tender for the first field, which is located in the undisputed Area I.

The statement said, "62 percent of Area G lies within the maritime borders declared by the State of Palestine in 2019, in accordance with the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Palestine is a signatory."

In addition to the licenses already granted in Area G, “Israel also issued tenders for Areas H and E, where 73 percent of Area H is located within the declared maritime borders of Palestine, along with 5 percent of Area E.”

Director of the Law, Land Rights and Planning Unit at Adalah, lawyer Suhad Bishara, told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli tender in the sea adjacent to Gaza is illegal according to international law, and that Israel has taken illegal steps.

She added: “Basically, Israel decided to suspend all international legal frameworks that it must abide by and implement its national law instead, and these measures, including the licenses it issued, are all illegal.”

She stated that "Adalah Center submitted a request to the Israeli Ministry of Energy, which is responsible for these licenses, and we asked them to cancel their licenses and refrain from issuing new licenses in the areas that Palestine declared its exclusive economic zone."

Head of the Turkish Center for Maritime and Global Strategies, a faculty member at Topkapi University, Cihat Yaycı, said, “Israel signed the maritime border demarcation agreement with Greek Cyprus in 2010, and the area that should fall within Palestine’s control in accordance with international law was not mentioned in the agreement.”

He stated in an interview with Anatolia that Palestine should have a much larger area than it declared to the United Nations in 2019, and he said: “This is important in terms of showing how a lack of knowledge leads to a loss of rights.”

He added: "We see, by looking at the small triangle, that Israel not only effectively occupied 85 percent of Palestine in 1947, but also occupied 80 percent of the sea."

Yayji explained that Israel does not allow any means of transportation from the Gaza coast, noting that "the most interesting thing is that it has been understood that one of the most important goals of the Israeli blockade and not allowing exploration for oil, gas, and fishing there, is to occupy Gaza and use the wealth."

He stressed: “There is no conflict here, there is a violation of the rights of Palestine, but for example, Turkey does not allow exploration in its declared areas in the eastern Mediterranean, and it carries out military operations and takes measures and prevents that, and they cannot issue licenses in those areas, and in Palestine they do not.” "These things are because of their vulnerable status."

After Palestine declared its maritime borders within the scope of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on September 24, 2019, Egypt’s notification to the United Nations on December 31, 2019 stated that “the Egyptian government rejects and does not recognize the points that define the external boundaries of the maritime areas specified in the declaration.” issued by Palestine, and these borders conflict with Egypt’s eastern maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea.”

On January 14, 2020, Israel also objected to the United Nations, saying that it does not recognize the borders declared by Palestine, and in the notification that Palestine submitted to the United Nations on April 12 and 27, 2022, a memorandum was sent regarding unauthorized maritime activities in Marine areas of the country.


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Energy sources: another Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip