Israel human rights groups challenge fuel cuts in Gaza Strip

[JURIST] Several human rights groups have challenged [press release] Israel's decision to reduce fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] and its plan to cut the electricity supply, saying Sunday that the move could create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gisha [advocacy website] and nine other human rights groups requested an injunction from the the Israeli Supreme Court Sunday, immediately following the government's announcement that it will cut back the energy supply to Gaza. The human rights groups say fuel supplies will be cut by 30 percent, while the Israeli government said the cut-back amounts to 11 percent. Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday that cutting back fuel supplies was the only option the Israeli government had aside from a full-scale military operation. The government hopes the cut in fuel supplies will pressure Hamas to stop rocket attacks against Israeli towns.

Tensions between hard-line Islamist Hamas and the more secular Fatah [BBC backgrounders] heightened after Hamas defeated Fatah [JURIST report] in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, causing a major political shift in the region. Hamas has refused to distance itself from terrorism or recognize Israel's right to exist as a nation-state, resulting in increased ostracism by the United States, the European Union, and Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas eventually dissolved the Hamas-led government, but Hamas continues to exercise de facto power in Gaza [JURIST report] after a violent take-over [JP report] of the area in June. Fatah controls the West Bank. AP has more.

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