[JURIST] Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz [official profile] temporarily suspended a government plan to cut electricity to the Palestinian Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] Monday, pending legal challenges [press release; JURIST report] from several human rights groups in the Israeli Supreme Court. The human rights groups allege that the Israeli government's plan to restrict energy supples in Gaza constituted collective punishment [backgrounder] and had unsuccessfully sought an injunction against the government policy.
Israeli officials say that cutting back energy supplies was the only option the Israeli government has aside from a full-scale military operation against Hamas [BBC backgrounder], which has refused to halt indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli positions from Gaza. Tensions between the Islamist Hamas and the more secular Fatah [BBC backgrounder] movements heightened after Hamas defeated Fatah [JURIST report] in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, causing a major political shift in the region. Palestinian infighting has led to the establishment of two parallel Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas dominating the latter. AP has more.