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Yom Hazikaron 2023

Israeli court orders government to let Palestinians attend Memorial Day event

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had barred passage across the Green Line, citing the “complex security situation.”

A "Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day" ceremony held by the Combatants for Peace group. Source: Screenshot.
A "Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day" ceremony held by the Combatants for Peace group. Source: Screenshot.

Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, overruled Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday and ordered him to allow Palestinians to cross the Green Line to attend an annual joint Memorial Day event.

In its decision, the court expressed “regret” over Gallant’s decision earlier this month to bar Palestinian participants, despite previous rulings ordering the state to allow them to attend the event, now in its 17th year, hosted by Combatants for Peace.

Gallant attributed his decision to “the complex security situation” in Judea and Samaria, citing the standard practice of closing the crossings into Green Line Israel over Memorial Day and Independence Day to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks.

However, the court noted that the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit, which oversees civilian affairs in Israeli-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, had approved the request, and that tens of thousands of Palestinians are routinely allowed into Israel every day for various reasons.

The Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank that helped to formulate the government’s judicial reform initiative, slammed the court’s ruling.

“The petitioners asked the court to require the State of Israel to allow Palestinians to enter despite the [Green Line] closure, despite the security situation and despite the strong opposition of the defense minister. But, as is well known, in Israel, the attorney general decides what the state’s position is.

“And she [Gali Baharav-Miara] decided that entry must be allowed. This is how the theater of the absurd operates: An ostensible court hearing, which in practice constitutes a one-voice discourse—the petitioners together with the attorney general, and the Israeli government is not even represented in the hearing. And some people ask why there is a need for reform in regulating the attorney general’s powers?”

A 2019 ruling by the High Court of Justice overturned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision that year to deny permits to dozens of Palestinians planning to attend the event. The court deemed it illegitimate to bar the attendees’ entry for security reasons.

Organizers say the event is meant to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, whereas opponents argue it legitimizes Palestinian terrorism on a day when the Jewish people mourns its fallen heroes.

Israel will mark this year’s Memorial Day beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday when a one-minute siren will sound across the country. Commemorations will take place at 52 military cemeteries and memorial sites during the following 24 hours, with the main ceremony held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Fifty-nine Israeli soldiers fell in the line of duty since the last Memorial Day and an additional 86 disabled veterans died due to their condition, the Defense Ministry announced over the weekend.

Overall, 24,213 soldiers and terror victims have lost their lives in service to the nation since 1860.

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