Supreme Court to Hear Petition to Open Gaza’s Crossings to Supply of Goods

Petitioners to Court: The restrictions on imports are choking life in Gaza

Thu. February 22, 2007 – On Sunday, 25 February 2007, at 10:30, the Supreme Court of Israel will hear a petition filed by six human rights organizations to order the Minister of Defense to open the crossings into the Gaza Strip for the regular supply of food stuffs, medicines, fuel, and other essential products. The petition was filed by: Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, B’tselem, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Gisha. Adv. Azem Bishara from ACRI and Adv. Sari Bashi, Director of Gisha will argue the case.

In an update filed this week to the Court, the petitioners argue that, despite some improvement in supply since the summer, restrictions on passage of goods through Karni Crossing continue are choking Gaza’s economy and harming humanitarian projects.

While trucks wait on the Israeli side of Karni Crossing, Gaza residents suffer shortages, cannot engage in industry, and pay 25% more for basic goods. For example, construction projects to build schools, homes, and hospitals and to repair the damage done by Israeli shelling are on hold – because contractors can’t get the building supplies. Sewage has flooded the streets of Gaza because the Water Utility has not been able to receive the pipes it ordered 12 months ago.

According toFaysal Shawa,a businessman and Gazaresident: "The inability to obtain raw materials has caused factories to close or move outside Gaza Strip, has caused people to lose their jobs, and has forced delays and a halting of industry, construction and infrastructure projects."

The court petition was filed last July, after the Israeli military bombed the Gaza’s power station and interrupted thesupply of fuel, food and other humanitarian goods to Gaza by keeping Gaza’scrossings mostly closed. The petition argues that Israel is not fulfilling its legal obligations toprovide for the needs of the civilian population and to distinguish betweenmilitary and civilian targets. In its response to the petition, the state claimed that it was monitoring the situation in Gaza “as best as possible under the circumstances” and that it permits a “reasonable supply” of humanitarian assistance. In August, in light of severe shortages in Gaza caused by Israel, who maintains control over the passage of goods into the Gaza Strip, the petitioners submitted an urgent request to the Israeli Supreme Court, after no decision has been issued in the petition.