Court Criticizes State Attorneys for Submitting Erroneous Information on Gaza Electricity Supply

In court petition to prevent electricity and fuel cuts to Gaza, Supreme Court Sharply Criticizes State Attorneys for Submitting Erroneous Information on Gaza Electricity Supply

"The facts were not properly investigated," wrote the justices in today’s decision, and they ordered the state to complete the information in advance of a hearing in late January. "The course of events described above is puzzling," the justices said.

Meanwhile: State announces that it will cut gasoline supplies to Gaza even further.

Tue., December 25, 2007 – In the petition challenging punitive sanctions against Gaza residents, submitted by 10 human rights groups, represented by Gisha and Adalah, Israel’s Supreme Court had ordered the state to provide information on its plan to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza and the effects on Gaza’s residents. This was after the petitioners submitted substantial information showing that any reduction in electricity supply to Gaza would inevitably damage the operation of hospitals, water systems, and other vital services. Yet in a document submitted by the state last week, the state attorney’s office admitted that it gave the justices substantially incorrect information, and that the state officials who created the plan to cut electricity to Gaza – did not even know how much electricity Israel provides and how much they were cutting. The document submitted by the state last week also ignored the court’s detailed instructions, to provide information to back the claim that the reduction would not harm humanitarian needs. Today, the court gave its sharp criticism.

Even as the justices criticized the state for loose facts on electricity, the state announced that it would deepen the cut in gasoline (petrol) to Gaza, beginning Sunday, December 30, to up to 43% of the amount provided before the cuts. Yesterday, Gisha and Adalah asked the court for a preliminary injunction against this further cut, but no decision has yet been given. The fuel cuts, which began in October, have already caused severe damage to vital institutions in Gaza. The state said yesterday that it would temporarily restore diesel supplies to Gaza, which had also been cut. The cuts in the various types of fuel have paralyzed some operations in hospitals and clinics and deprived tens of thousands of people of access to clean water. Garbage has been piling up in the streets, because there is no gas for sanitation trucks.

The electricity cuts are on hold, pending the court’s decision, but the fuel cuts have been in effect since October 28, 2007. Israel, which controls Gaza’s borders, sells fuel and electricity to Gaza and does not allow fuel to be imported any other way.

According to Sari Bashi, Gisha’s Director: "The court’s decision shows the many flaws in the behavior of the state, which first decides to punish and only later asks what the consequences are for 1.5 million Gaza residents, who have no way to protect themselves."

According to Fatmeh al-‘Ajou, Adalah Attorney: "The state of Israel, which controls Gaza’s borders and its ability to receive fuel and electricity, is causing severe harm to welfare of Gaza residents, in clear violation of its international law obligations."