Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rockets, Shells Batter Negev; Electricity Still Flowing to Gaza

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday afternoon to push off for at least two weeks the government's decision to reduce electricity to Gaza in response to ongoing Kassam rocket fire. The Court - Judges Dorit Beinish, Esther Hayut and Yosef Elon - ruled that the State has one week in which to document its claim that reducing electricity to Gaza would not cause unreasonable harm to the Arabs of Gaza. It also ruled that the left-wing groups who oppose the electricity cut-off could then have another week in which to prove the opposite.

A Kassam rocket fired from northern Gaza exploded near a kibbutz in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council on Wednesday afternoon. No casualties or damages were reported. Earlier, four mortar shells were fired from central Gaza and landed near the border fence; no one was hurt. In the morning hours, Palestinian terrorists fired at an IDF patrol jeep near northern Gaza, without effect.

On Tuesday, a Kassam rocket hit a residential home in Sderot, sending four residents to the Shock Treatment Center for treatment. Another rocket hit the city at the same time, without incident.

The government decided two weeks ago to cut down on the electricity it supplies to Gaza in response to Kassam rockets fired at Israel. Just before the decision could be implemented, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered it suspended, until safeguards are instituted to prevent humanitarian harm.

Leading figures in the IDF, State Prosecution and the Knesset argue that cutting fuel supplies to Gaza would have a positive effect in pressuring Hamas to end rocket attacks against Israel, but would not affect Gaza hospitals, sewage systems or the water supply. The idea received legal support by the Military Advocate General, Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mendelblit.

Minister Chaim Ramon (Kadima), a proponent of giving up parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, said, "The State of Israel is making a very terrible and grave mistake by continuing to supply electricity, water and other infrastructures to Gaza." Ramon, one of Israel's Deputy Prime Ministers, said it is legitimate to impose such sanctions on Gaza "in light of its having been defined as a hostile entity [by the Israeli government]."

Earlier, Attorney Yossi Fuchs of the Land of Israel Legal Forum said that Mazuz's decision "shows concern for the residents of Gaza, but [ignores] the suffering of the children of Sderot."

The Rabbinical Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza similarly condemned Mazuz's decision, saying it "could lead to the deaths of soldiers and civilians." The rabbis laid the blame for recent IDF casualties in Gaza on orders intended to protect "so-called innocents among the terror-supporting population." The Council stated that Jewish Law allows for siege measures against the population of the enemy entity in Gaza, "because the daily Kassam rocket barrages on the precious residents of the [Negev] constitute war in every respect."


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