21 January 2008

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 Demand Injunction from the Supreme Court to Prevent Israel from Continuing to Bar Fuel from Reaching Gaza; Gaza Plunged into Darkness Yesterday by a Severe Lack of Fuel

Adalah: “Israel's commitment to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is mere lip-service. Cut off from fuel supplies, Gaza has been blacked out and now stands at the verge of a severe humanitarian crisis. This is not Hamas propaganda, as Israel claims. Israel's continuing punitive sanctions against the population of Gaza are intended to harm Palestinian civilians for political purposes, and amount to collective punishment, which is illegal under international law.”

Today, 21 January 2008, Adalah filed an urgent motion to the Supreme Court of Israel, jointly with Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, demanding that the court issue an injunction to prevent Israel from continuing to cut the supply of industrial fuel to the Gaza Strip. The motion followed a night on which Gaza was plunged into darkness as a consequence of the severe shortage of industrial diesel fuel.

The motion was filed as part of a petition submitted to the Supreme Court by Adalah and Gisha in October 2007 on behalf of ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations. The organizations challenged punitive measures approved by the Israeli Cabinet that, among other things, drastically cut fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza.

The petitioners have previously filed similar motions to the court at several stages of the litigation. However, the court rejected all of the motions and has scheduled the next hearing on the petition for Sunday 3 February 2008, particularly regarding the electricity cuts. On 29 November 2007, the court conditioned the reduction in the amount of fuel on a commitment from the state that doing so would not endanger the lives of the Palestinian population of Gaza. However, yesterday Israel prevented the entry of all industrial diesel fuel into Gaza after almost three months of cutbacks. As all stored fuel supplies in Gaza have now been consumed, the electricity supply was cut out altogether, plunging the Gaza Strip into darkness.

Hospitals in Gaza have stopped treating patients other than cases of serious emergencies because of their current lack of capacity.

In the motion, Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou and General Director of Gisha, Sari Bashi, argued that the residents of the Gaza Strip are suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis and that Israel is in violation of its responsibilities under international law, which proscribes collective punishment.

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

The Petition (Hebrew)

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