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Israel courts have backed state’s position on Gaza blockade ‘almost blindly’

Palestinian children come together to call for international efforts to save Gaza from the humanitarian crisis [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian children come together to call for international efforts to save Gaza from the humanitarian crisis [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli courts have backed the state’s position on the blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip “almost blindly” over the last decade, a new report has found.

According to Israeli NGO Gisha, which focuses on access issues for Palestinians under occupation, the Israeli court system has “persistently disregard[ed] international law and the legal framework it provides for the protection of their [Palestinians in Gaza] human rights”.

The compilation, and analysis, of key judgments compiled in “10 Years, 10 Judgments – How Israel’s courts sanctioned the closure of Gaza” “paints a bleak picture”, says Gisha.

In repeatedly affirming the state’s position, “the courts have sanctioned severe violations of Palestinians’ rights, primarily, the right to freedom of movement”.

One of the crucial points made in Gisha’s study, is that over the past decade, Israel’s Supreme Court “has evaded deliberation on Israel’s obligations toward residents of the Strip under international law – both the laws of belligerent occupation and human rights law”.

According to Gisha, the judgments presented in the report were chosen “due to their importance in terms of the critical impact they have had on the scope and depth of Israel’s access policy, and as a result, their influence on the lives of Gaza’s two million residents”.

The situation created by Israeli state policy, as affirmed by the courts, is “one in which Palestinians in Gaza have virtually no clear legal status in the post-disengagement era and no specific system of law that applies to them, that as such, would grant them rights”.

Read: Besieging Gaza is a ‘foolish plot’ which will backfire, says Haaretz

In almost all cases, the justices found “no cause for intervention” in Israel’s restrictive policies, concluding that Israel only bears unspecified, vaguely-defined “humanitarian obligations” towards the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip.

“Abandoning a clear system of law in favour of a vague humanitarian rhetoric framework has given the state unlimited discretion”, Gisha notes, “leaving Gaza residents exposed to an exceedingly flimsy basis for the protection of their human rights.”

In one 2009 case, the Supreme Court “adopted the state’s position, ruling that Gaza residents were foreign nationals for all intents and purposes and had no vested right to enter Israel.”

Yet two years later, the same court “adopted the state’s contradictory position” in a separate case, “whereby residents of Gaza were not ordinary foreign nationals but “special” foreign nationals who come under special law”.

Policies upheld by the Supreme Court include the “separation policy”, “which tears families apart between the West Bank and Gaza”.

Gisha urged Israel’s courts “to intervene in Israel’s abdication of its legal responsibilities toward the two million residents of Gaza, and act to protect their fundamental human rights.”

The full report can be read and downloaded here.

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