Yesterday was surely one of the black days in the annals of Israeli jurisprudence. It was the day that an Israeli chief justice acquiesced in her government’s strangulation of a civilian population for the sole purpose of collectively punishing them because some in their midst attempt to do harm to Israel:
The High Court of Justice yesterday ruled that Israel’s reduction of power and fuel to the Gaza Strip is legal as the remaining supplies still meet the humanitarian needs of the population.
A three-justice panel, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, rejected the petitions submitted by the human rights organizations Gisha and Adalah.
The Gaza Strip is controled by a murderous terror organization, which works tirelessly to harm Israel and its citizens, and breaks every possible rule of international justice in its violent actions against men, women and children,” Justice Beinisch wrote.
Beinisch wrote that in war, civilians were the first to suffer.
However in the actions against Israel, civilians were the intended target. The High Court of Justice said Israel was not required to transfer unlimited supplies of goods and fuel, but only to fulfill its obligations by international law.
They said that this is the case, because Israel has not had effective control of the Gaza Strip since the disengagement.
The human rights groups Gisha and Adalah called the ruling a “dangerous legal precedent.”
“In war civilians are the first to suffer.” This statement is somehow meant to excuse the suffering inflicted by the Gaza siege. Then Beinisch claims that the Qassam attacks are deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians which somehow justifies Israel inflicting suffering which deliberately targets Gaza civilians. Remember Martin Luther King’s remarkable phrase: “If we live by an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth then we all end up blind and toothless.” This is the logic of this decision.
Of course the argument that Israel has no obligation to provide sufficient fuel and electricity for Gaza because it no longer controls Gaza is utterly bankrupt. Israel, in fact, controls Gaza in effect through a practically air tight siege. Nothing goes in or comes out unless the IDF approves. This constitutes “effective control” whether Beinisch acknowledges it or not.
I would go farther than Gisha and Adala in their condemnation. I would say that this decision amounts to monstrous and tortured legal casuistry. It reminds me a bit of Roger Taney’s decision in the Dred Scott case in which he found that a slave was property and not entitled to any legal protections under the Constitution.
In this decision, as in Bush v. Gore, the judiciary had an end result in mind and merely twisted the facts in order to arrive at a predetermined outcome. I hope this decision will live in infamy and the name of Beinisch will always be associated with it. Let it be a moral stain she must always live down for the rest of her days.
This was reader S’s succinct characterization of the decision (S is a lawyer):
This is how the Israeli Supreme Court renders decisions concerning Palestinians: human rights organizations petition the Court relying on extensive, verifiable evidence including affidavits of experts and people that are directly harmed by the decision. During oral hearing, the IDF representative or the State Attorney stand up and simply deny that any harm is caused. They offer no evidence. Why should they? It’s the State of Israel’s word.
Then, the judges throw out the petition. This is how it operates, for more than forty years.