update deskIsrael at War

Israeli High Court hears petition demanding more aid to Gaza

The state's lawyers revealed that a decision was made to open an additional water pipeline and extend the opening hours of the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Israeli Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman arrives for a court hearing in Jerusalem, Nov. 7, 2022. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
Israeli Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman arrives for a court hearing in Jerusalem, Nov. 7, 2022. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.

Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, was deliberating Thursday following a hearing on a petition demanding that the Israel Defense Forces allow “all humanitarian aid, equipment and staff” to enter the Gaza Strip amid the war against Hamas terrorists.

The petition was filed by five NGOs: Gisha—Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

During Thursday’s hearing, which lasted two hours and was presided over by acting Chief Justice Uzi Vogelman, government representatives said that Israel has placed no limit on the quantity of aid that can enter Gaza.

Jerusalem is making “significant efforts to expand the amount of aid delivered via land crossings, coordinate aid passage to and within the Gaza Strip, and enable the delivery of humanitarian aid by air and sea as well,” they said, adding that the IDF is surpassing its legal obligations.

State representatives also revealed that a decision was made to open an additional water pipeline from Kibbutz Nahal Oz to the Strip and extend the opening hours of the Kerem Shalom Crossing with southern Gaza.

Gisha’s attorney Osnat Cohen-Lifshitz, who spoke on behalf of all five petitioning organizations, claimed that “Israel does not follow the rules of international law. We are aware that Hamas plays a large part in the suffering of the civilian population, but we seek to oblige the state to act according to international and Israeli law.”

Vogelman indicated during Thursday’s hearing that the 250 trucks entering Gaza on a daily basis are, in his opinion, insufficient.

As part of the proceedings, Vogelman instructed the state to share with the court data on the amount of aid entering Gaza and the amounts required for the enclave’s estimated two million inhabitants.

The court decided to give its final ruling only after receiving additional data and legal arguments from the state, including in closed chambers.

Professor Talia Einhorn, a leading jurist affiliated with Israeli universities, tweeted on Thursday: “Watching the live broadcast at the High Court regarding humanitarian aid to the enemy in Gaza, in which the court demands that the state detail exactly how aid is delivered and where, according to the judges, it’s possible to make it more efficient.

“Nowhere in the world does such a procedure exist in times of war,” said Einhorn.

In recent weeks, Hamas, the United Nations, international relief groups and others accused Israel of placing Gazans at risk for imminent starvation. Western media quickly picked up the allegations.

The storm over the impending food shortage reached a climax with the issuance of a March 18 report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) multi-partner initiative claiming that 578,000 Gazans were facing “acute food insecurity.”

The IDF released a report on March 29 refuting the IPC’s assertions, noting, “In recent months between 150 and 200 trucks are admitted per day, most of which are food trucks. This is an 80% spike in comparison to the daily average food trucks that entered Gaza pre-October 7.”

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