New report by Gisha: 10 Years |10 Judgments – How Israel’s courts sanctioned the closure of Gaza

Sunday, February 11, 2018: A new report by Gisha, 10 Years |10 Judgments, presents analysis of ten central judgments concerning the rights of Gaza residents handed down by the Israeli court system in the decade since Israel tightened its closure on the Strip.

The compilation of judgments paints a bleak picture: The courts affirm the state’s position almost blindly; avoid discussion of the necessary balance between Israel’s national security needs and the fundamental rights of Gaza residents, while persistently disregarding international law and the legal framework it provides for the protection of their human rights. In so doing, the courts have sanctioned severe violations of Palestinians’ rights, primarily, the right to freedom of movement.

The report’s main conclusions are as follows:

  1. Throughout more than a decade of closure on Gaza, 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. This stands in contrast to Israel’s comprehensive control over access to and from the Strip and its impact on countless aspects of the lives of Gaza residents. Where such control should have led to legal responsibility toward Gaza residents, Israel has been nearly absolved of all such obligations by the workings of its own legal system. Israel’s Supreme Court does not offer protection for the fundamental rights of Gaza residents, even when the realization of these rights is entirely dependent on Israel.
  2. In most cases, the justices found “no cause for intervention” in Israel’s restrictive policies, concluding that Israel only bears “humanitarian obligations” toward Gaza’s residents, such as providing Gaza with fuel and electricity (Al Bassiouni 2008), without specifying the extent of these obligations, or how they should be implemented in practice. This ambiguity was maintained over the years, with the exception of a single case where protecting the rights of Gaza residents suited Israel’s political interests, in a petition against the Israeli government decision to transport money to Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza through its territory (The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel 2009).
  3. Even when Supreme Court justices found cause to critique the state’s conduct, they limited themselves to mild recommendations that certain sweeping restrictions be mitigated. For instance, when the court upheld Israel’s “separation policy,” which tears families apart between the West Bank and Gaza, the justices merely suggested amendments to the procedure governing relocation to the West Bank (HaMoked 2012), which have yet to be implemented. In two petitions challenging Israel’s blanket ban on travel from Gaza to the West Bank for academic studies (Hamdan 2007 and Izzat 2012), the justices recommended that the state institute an “exceptions committee” to process individual applications, which has never been established.
  4. The pattern of refraining to intervene in order to protect the human rights of Gaza residents has only been disturbed by administrative petitions filed under the Freedom of Information Act, which forced Israel to reveal its practices in formal procedures that are available to the public, and to release previously undisclosed information on its policy vis-à-vis the Strip (Gisha 2009).

After over a decade of Israel’s failed policy of closure on Gaza, it is high time for 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.

To view 10 Years |10 Judgments, click here.