Israel's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by human rights groups on Thursday for an injunction against fuel cuts to the Gaza Strip, rejecting their argument that the cuts cause humanitarian harm.
Israel instituted the cuts as part of a policy of pressure to stop daily rocket fire at Israel by Gaza militants.
The court ruled that reducing fuel supplies could hinder Gaza militants from targeting border towns with primitive rockets called Qassams, and would not cause a crisis in the impoverished territory.
Gaza depends on Israel for all its fuel. Israel began reducing fuel supplies in October and gasoline supplies have been cut by 33-45 percent so far, according to statistics provided by Gisha, one of the groups that filed the appeal.
''Reducing fuel supplies hits the terror infrastructure and hinders its ability to attack Israeli citizens,'' the court said in its decision. The court said it took Gaza's civilian population into consideration and would monitor the affects of the fuel cuts to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Another hearing was set for Feb. 8.
Gisha director Sari Bashi disagreed with the court's reasoning. ''These punitive measures are repeatedly pushing Gaza residents to the brink without any legitimate security justification,'' she said.
''Preventing health care workers from driving to patients in need does not stop Qassam rocket fire ... and only makes more innocent civilians suffer,'' Bashi said.
Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist group, has declared Gaza a ''hostile entity'' and closed its borders, halting almost all trade.