Gisha asks to join as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in petition filed by the Israeli Council of Transporters and Carriers against a Ministry of Transportation decision to restrict truck traffic on the roads leading to the Kerem Shalom crossing (AP 1400-05-16 Council of Transporters and Carriers et al. v. Road Sign Authority et al.)
On April 13, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation (Hebrew) announced that as of May 2, 2016, trucks weighing more than 12 tons would be prohibited from using many roads in Israel’s southern region, the Negev desert, between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM and between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. Road 232, the only road leading to the Kerem Shalom crossing is included. The ministry decision reads: “Protecting the lives of school children and Negev residents who are exposed to hazards and accidents comes before the need to supply commodities to the Hamas government in Gaza”. The Kerem Shalom crossing is currently the only commercial access point to Gaza.
The decision caused concern among many truck drivers, as well as farmers, industrialists and suppliers who work in the area that the ban would, in fact, increase the safety concerns and harm their livelihoods, and on May 1, 2016, a petition was filed with the Jerusalem District Court against the Road Sign Authority in the Ministry of Transportation. The court was requested to issue an order that would postpone the decision’s entry into effect pending a decision in the case. The court issued a temporary order that day, delaying implementation of the decision until the hearing, which was scheduled for May 5, 2016.
To ensure that the voice of Gaza residents, who are completely dependent on the proper routine operation of the Kerem Shalom crossing, is heard and taken into account, on May 3, 2016, Gisha field an application to join the petition as amicus curiae. (Hebrew) In the application, Gisha stated that it has expertise with regards to analyzing the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, and the effects disruptions in the operation of the Kerem Shalom crossing would have on the lives of Gaza residents, and that the court should hear this point of view before deciding whether or not to uphold the decision of the Ministry of Transportation.
Judge Darel ruled that Gisha’s amicus curiae application would be heard in the beginning of the hearing (Hebrew) and that inasmuch as it is approved, Gisha’s counsel would be permitted to present oral arguments at the hearing. The next day, the state asked (Hebrew) to postpone the hearing by two weeks, without revoking the interim order with respect to the implementation of the decision. This means that restrictions on travel on the roads leading to Kerem Shalom would not come into effect at least until May 25, 2016, the new date for the hearing, when Gisha’s amicus curiae application will also be heard.