During the first week of fighting, human rights organizations filed two petitions with the High Court of Justice – the first concerning the military's attacks on medical crews providing aid and attempting to evacuate the injured to hospitals; the second, concerning the supply of fuel and power to the Gaza Strip. The Court decided to consolidate the proceedings in the two petitions, claiming that both address the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of the fighting.
The Court held two hearings on the petitions – at the first, urgent hearing there was no representative for the military present who could answer questions regarding the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, or explain the system set up by the military to address humanitarian issues such as those detailed in the petitions. On 15 January 2009, the Court held an additional hearing on the petitions, during which it instructed the military to submit an update by 19 January 2009, regarding several cases of attacks on crews that were evacuating the wounded. However, before the military had time to submit its updating notice as required, near the end of the fighting in Gaza, the Court rushed to publish its judgment in which it rejected both petitions.
In its judgment the Court ruled, first, that the fighting in the Gaza Strip was an international armed conflict in the framework of which all the precepts of international humanitarian law apply. Israel must observe its obligations towards the people of Gaza, and ensure, inter alia, "respect for their body and dignity and protection from any acts of violence or threats of violence"; "the free transport of medical humanitarian supplies, as well as essential food and clothing for children, pregnant women and mothers, as quickly as possible"; Israel must "allow medical personnel access to wherever they are needed" and "enable the evacuation of the wounded as well as medical treatment of the injured" in accordance with the Hague and Geneva conventions.
The Court rejected the petitioners' claims, which were supported by affidavits and which contradicted the military's position, and accepted the military's claim that it was conscious of its obligations under international humanitarian law and Israeli legislation, and was fully prepared to fulfill them.
Although customarily the rules of international humanitarian law are not subject to the principle of reciprocity – there is no requisition that both parties follow the provisions of the convention, and one party's disobedience does not absolve the other party of its obligations – the Court found it necessary to point out, in relation to Hamas, that: "this organization does not abide by international law; it does not honor humanitarian obligations; it does not engage in dialogue to advance the implementation of the principles and laws applying to the parties in an armed conflict such as the one being waged here."