Statement by Gisha in response to High Court’s rejection of petitions challenging Israel’s open-fire regulations in Gaza

May 25, 2018. Last night at 9pm, Israel’s High Court issued a ruling rejecting two petitions brought by human rights organizations against the Israeli army’s rules of engagement, which have led to the deaths of over 100 protestors in Gaza and injuries of more than 10,000. The petitions, the first filed by Gisha together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, and Yesh Din, and the second by Adalah – The Legal Center For Arab Minority Rights In Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights were heard together. In its ruling, the court relies heavily on the state’s framing of events and its tendency to view all residents of Gaza as a threat. It treats Israel as a victim rather than a country that must bear responsibility for its actions and whose control over Palestinians in Gaza has largely led to the dire humanitarian conditions they face.

It is disappointing but not surprising to see the court again sanction grave violations of human rights and international law, giving cover to the unconscionable act of firing on, killing and maiming, unarmed protestors in Gaza who pose no threat. A report by Gisha presents rulings by the High Court over the past 10-plus years which document how the court has toiled to find creative ways to defend the state’s actions, particularly when it comes to Gaza, over and over again.

Meaningful change and real improvement to the lives of Gaza residents can only come when Israel recognizes its responsibility for the vast control its still wields over people’s lives in the Strip.

We joined the petition hoping the court would intervene to stop the killing, but also out of a desire to compel the state to review and explain its actions. Instead of acting to protect the rights of Gaza residents, including the right to freedom of movement, thereby ensuring a way out of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the state has chosen to use excessive force, believing that with the right ‘hasbara’ it can evade responsibility for the devastation its choices bring upon Palestinians, and Israelis.