Today, 27 January 2008, the Supreme Court of Israel held a hearing on an urgent motion filed by Adalah and Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, on behalf of ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, demanding an injunction to prevent Israel from continuing to cut the supply of industrial diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip. The motion, filed on 21 January 2008, followed a night in which Gaza was plunged into darkness as a result of the severe shortage of industrial diesel fuel. The court also discussed the issue of the state's proposed cutbacks to the electricity supply, as raised in the organizations' petition filed in October 2007.
At the hearing, the state informed the Supreme Court that starting next week it would supply the “minimum humanitarian need”, which it determines to be 2.2 million liters of industrial diesel fuel per week for now. The state also announced that it would reduce and increase the supply of industrial diesel fuel in accordance with the situation on the ground, but still within the policy of the cutbacks. The court did not issue a decision on the motion for an injunction or on the petition, which remains pending.
The General Director of Gisha, Attorney Sari Bashi, and Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou, provided extensive data to the court to prove that cutbacks to the fuel and electricity have caused abject misery for the Palestinians in Gaza, who are already living in intolerable conditions. The shortage of fuel and electricity has affected many essential systems, including water pumping stations, preventing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from accessing drinking water. It has also paralyzed the sewage system and severely harmed the functioning of hospitals in Gaza. They emphasized that these measures are being imposed for punitive purposes and have no relation to security concerns whatsoever.
Failing to refute any of the evidence presented by the petitioners concerning the impact of the state's actions on the people of Gaza, the state claimed that it is closely monitoring the situation and remains bound to its commitment not to cause a humanitarian crisis to the civilian population in Gaza. The petitioners countered that the state is in fact turning a blind eye to the situation in Gaza, and has even failed to respect the “minimum humanitarian standard” that it committed to before the court.
“Anyone sitting in the courtroom would have been left by the State Attorney's representations with the impression that life in Gaza is normal and there is no crisis,” said Attorney Hassan Jabareen, the General Director of Adalah. “This, of course, contradicts reality. Everyone in the world knows that there is a very severe crisis in Gaza.”
Two key witnesses, Dr. Rafiq Maliha, a project manager for the Gaza Power Generating Company, and Nedal Toman, an engineer and a project manager in the GEDCO Gaza Distribution Electricity Company, were scheduled to testify before the court. However, owing to delays imposed on them by the Israeli army at the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel, they were unable to reach the court in time to bear witness to the consequences of Israel's continuing refusal to provide the power needed in Gaza.
H.C. 9132/07, Jaber al-Basyouni Ahmed v. The Prime Minister