Tens of Thousands Without Power Due to Storm

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -
Yiftah Ron-Tal, Director of the Israel Electricity Company, speaking during a special Knesset meeting over the failure of electricity in the storm this week. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Yiftah Ron-Tal, Director of the Israel Electricity Company, speaking during a special Knesset meeting over the failure of electricity in the storm this week. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

About 33,000 homes were still without electricity on Monday night, over 24 hours after a storm front moved into Israel with high winds that knocked down power lines in many areas.

Petach Tikvah, Netanya Ra’anana and others were still suffering from power loss as of Monday morning, 24 hours after the storm struck with winds of up to 62 miles per hour, bringing down trees, two cranes and electric pylons, and causing flooding.

Delays in restoring power may be due to a labor-management tussle in the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC); sources differ on this matter.

At the behest of management, the Labor Court ordered IEC workers to go into a 72-hour emergency mode; but the union denied any slowdown, insisting that their people had been working all night to repair damage to power lines.

Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz said, “I call on the IEC workers to make every effort to repair the faults quickly and to connect Israelis who have been cut off from the power network. Disputes over the reform of IEC must not translate into disruption of such a vital service to Israel’s citizens.”

But the union leadership said it wasn’t so. IEC workers committee chairman Miki Zarfati declared: “This is an ugly action on the part of the management … The workers have been doing their utmost, and the management is shifting the responsibility.”

However, two weeks ago, at a session of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on planned reform of IEC, Zarfati threatened just such action:

“If Ofer Bloch (IEC CEO) thinks I’ll let him fire 1,500 workers, he’s mistaken. IEC’s situation is improving? It only looks that way to you. Do you think we’ll rescue you in the next storm? You’re all wrong… Do you think the workers will pay the price? You’re wrong. … Everyone here sanctifies competition even though it won’t lead to cheaper electricity. …. There’s someone here who profits from it, tycoons who sell electricity to tycoons and blame IEC workers for the price of electricity,” according to Globes.

On Monday, the State Control Committee announced an investigation into the IEC’s conduct during the storm crisis. The committee, led by MK Karine Elharrar, will hear testimony Tuesday from officials from the Agriculture, Interior, Defense, and Infrastructures Ministries.