30 October 2007

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel * Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement * HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual * Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
* The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights * The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel * Gaza Community Mental Health Programme * B'Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories * Al-Haq * Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Human Rights Organizations Petition Supreme Court Demanding an Injunction against Israeli Government to Prevent Disruption to Supply of Electricity and Fuel to Gaza

The Government Openly Decides, for the First Time, to Impose Collective Punishment on 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; Petitioners: The Decision is Illegal and will Damage the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Population of Gaza

Ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, in cooperation with the deputy director of a water company for towns along the coast of Gaza and a farmer from Beit Hanoun, petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel on 28 October 2007. The petitioners demanded the immediate issuance of an injunction against the Minister of Public Security and the Prime Minister to prevent them from disrupting the supply of electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip. The petitioners argued that the government's recent decision to interrupt electricity and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip is illegal, and if implemented, would endanger innocent civilians.

Following the filing of the petition, the Supreme Court ordered the state to submit its response within five days. The petitioners then filed a motion to the court to request the setting of a shorter deadline for the state's response. The petitioners further demanded that an urgent hearing be scheduled for the petition on the ground that Israel has begun to reduce the volume of fuel that it supplies to the Gaza Strip. In reply to the petitioners' demand, the state responded that, following a meeting held on 29 October 2007 between the Attorney General, the Israeli military and security officials, the Attorney General has decided not to reduce the supply of electricity to Gaza at this stage. Therefore, the state claimed, there is no need for this issue to be examined before the Supreme Court. The state added that the Attorney General has approved a plan to cut down fuel supplies, and the volume of fuel and diesel that Israel supplies to Gaza will be reduced by approximately 15% and the volume of diesel for gas stations by approximately 21%.

In addition, the state emphasized that it “does not intend to cause any humanitarian harm to the population of Gaza”, and therefore it “will continuously investigate the repercussions of reducing the supply of fuel to Gaza on the population of the Strip and on the humanitarian situation in the Strip, and will work towards preventing humanitarian harm.”

The petitioners argued that, contrary to the government's claims that the population of Gaza will be only slightly harmed, the implementation of this decision could cause widespread humanitarian damage. It is likely to endanger the functioning of hospitals and sewage and water services, and will interrupt the operation of medical equipment as well as vital household electrical equipment such as refrigerators, including those needed to refrigerate essential medical supplies. “The damage that will be inflicted by the disrupting of electricity and fuel supplies cannot be controlled, nor can its consequences. Deliberately obstructing the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is illegal. International law does not allow “minor” damage: It bans collective punishment entirely,” argued the petitioners.

The petitioners emphasized the dependency of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Israel for their electricity and fuel needs. “The state's claim that the population of Gaza should provide electricity for themselves is astonishing. In the decades of Israel's direct control of Gaza, it permitted the establishment of an electricity network with an extremely limited capacity (which can provide Gaza with just 38% of the electricity that its population needs). After implementing the ‘disengagement' from Gaza, Israel bombed the local power plant … this behavior imposes duties on Israel towards the population of the Gaza Strip in general, and in the field of electricity supply in particular.”

H.C. 9132/07, Jaber al-Basyouni Ahmed v. The Prime Minister (pending)

The Petition (Hebrew)

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