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Israel's Supreme Court Upholds Fuel Cuts to Gaza

Israel will continue to tighten sanctions on the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip after getting a green light from the nation's top court. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Palestinians say the measures are counterproductive.

Israel's Supreme Court upheld a government decision to reduce fuel supplies to Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Israeli officials say fuel supplies to Gaza have been cut by about 13 percent since last month, though Palestinians say it is as much as 40 percent.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says the fuel cuts are aimed at pressuring Palestinian militants in Gaza to stop firing homemade Kassam rockets at Jewish border communities.

"The Palestinians need to understand that business is not usual, I mean there is no equation in which Israeli children will be under attacks by Kassam rockets on a daily basis and life in the Gaza Strip can be as usual," she said.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June, routing the Fatah forces of western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas, who now heads a more moderate government in the West Bank, agreed at an international conference in the United States this week to resume peace negotiations with Israel.

But even though he is locked in a power struggle with Hamas, Mr. Abbas has condemned the fuel cuts on Gaza as collective punishment.

Palestinian analyst Mahdi Abdel Hadi told VOA that instead of stopping the rocket attacks, the sanctions will spark more violence.

"Hamas are citizens of Palestine, they are part of the Palestinian society and if we continue putting them under siege, and closure and collective punishment, they will go more extreme," he said.

Israel had planned to start reducing electricity supplies to Gaza on December 2, but the Supreme Court ordered a postponement. The court said it needed further clarifications from the government to ensure that electricity cuts would not cause a humanitarian crisis.