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Most of Israel Shut Down by Power Blackout

June 8, 1995

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Traffic backed up for miles behind broken stoplights and businesses ground to a halt Thursday as a power blackout crippled most of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Hundreds of people were stranded in stopped elevators, blood supplies were ruined in the Gaza Strip, and the Tel Aviv stock exchange was forced to shut down for more than an hour because of the outage.

Banks and shops _ lacking power for lights, computers and air-conditioning _ closed or used stopgap measures such as paper and pencils to do business. The Israel Manufacturers’ Association estimated losses of $10 million an hour.

The blackout was caused by two high-tension wires short-circuiting about 1 p.m., said Energy Minister Gonen Segev. The short-circuit was caused by a brush fire under the wires, according to the Israel Electric Co.

Both the power company and Israel’s energy ministry said they were investigating the incident.

Almost the entire country was affected, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Palestinian self-rule areas of Jericho and the Gaza Strip _ in all more than 5 million people.

Power returned to most areas by 5:45 p.m.

In the Red Sea resort of Eilat, where temperatures reached 100 F Thursday afternoon, tourists flocked to hotel pools to keep cool.

In the Gaza Strip, blood supplies were ruined because there was no electricity to keep them refrigerated, said Mohammed Anam, the Gaza City chief engineer. At Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, the generators supplied only enough power to run one operating room, and doctors could not use the X-ray machines.

``It’s a great nuisance,″ complained Yossi Levy, who was having a tough time operating his snack cart in Jerusalem. ``I can’t cook. I can’t keep the food hot. The mixer isn’t working. I can’t make hummus.″

Yossi Maimon, a deliveryman, bought a falafel anyway.

``I can’t pay him for the falafel because the automatic bank teller isn’t working,″ Maimon joked.

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