Â Israel plans to reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip beginning December 2, according to a document submitted Thursday to the Israeli supreme court, its latest move against the Hamas rulers of Gaza.Human rights groups have denounced Israelâ€™s policy of cutting back utilities to Gaza, calling it collective punishment.
Israel has mostly closed off Gaza since Hamas overran the territory in June. Several weeks ago Israel began cutting back on fuel supplies, but planned electricity reductions were delayed by an order from Israelâ€™s attorney general, who expressed concerns about humanitarian harm.
Rights groups petitioned the high court to stop the cutbacks, and on Thursday, the state responded with a one-page document that stated that Israel â€œwill implement a certain reduction of electricity supply to the Gaza Strip beginning December 2, 2007â€.
The document added: â€œIn order to allow the Palestinian regime to prepare properly for the reduction, advance warning of about one week will be given before the cut.â€ It said the attorney generalâ€™s concerns had been addressed.
At first Israeli officials said the utilities cutbacks were a way of persuading the Palestinian population to pressure Palestinians to stop rocket barrages at southern Israel.
Following an outcry over the prospect of further harming the already poverty-stricken Gaza population, Israel said the cutbacks were part of its disengagement from Gaza.
Israel withdrew its troops and dismantled all Jewish settlements there in 2005. Two groups that press for Israel to respect Palestinian human rights, Gisha and Adala, issued a statement Thursday charging that the proposed electricity cuts would â€œcause certain and serious harm to the health and well-being of Gaza residentsâ€.
Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, said there was â€œno physical way to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza without forcing power outages for hospitals, clinics, water wells, sewage treatment plants and schoolsâ€.
Meanhwile, Israeli troops shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian who approached the security fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, the military said Thursday.
After dark on Wednesday, the Palestinian approached a no-manâ€™s-zone along the fence where fighters frequently try to carry out attacks and threw something, the military said.
Suspecting the man was a fighter, soldiers opened fire and killed him, the army said. When the troops examined the body at daybreak, they realised that he was unarmed, the military said.
Palestinian officials identified the deadman as 21-year-old Salem Abu Saada.