Human Rights Organizations Demand the Immediate Opening of Karni Crossing, Essential for the Transport of Foodstuffs and Raw Materials between Gaza and Israel

HCJ 5523/07 Adalah, PCHR-Gaza, Al Mezan and Al Haq v. The Prime Minister, et al.

On 9 July 2007, Adalah filed a second petition to the Supreme Court of Israel demanding that the Karni Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip � which has essentially been closed for five weeks � be opened immediately in order to supply foodstuffs and other essential goods and raw materials to the Gaza Strip to enable the residents to conduct their lives in a natural and dignified manner. The petition was submitted by Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-�Ajou in Adalah's own name and on behalf of Al-Haq (West Bank), Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights-Gaza against the Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Security and the Coordinator for Military Operations in the Palestinian Territories. The petitioners further demanded that the state find an appropriate means of coordinating with the Palestinians in order to open the crossing in a regular way.

Adalah filed the second petition following a hearing held on 28 June 2007, at which the state argued that the first petition had been submitted prematurely as there was no humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip at the time. The Supreme Court ordered that Adalah file a revised petition because it anticipated that the shortage of raw materials in Gaza could lead to a humanitarian crisis. The Supreme Court also ordered the Attorney General's (AG) Office to respond to the new petition and to explain in it the arrangements that the state will employ in order to provide for all of the vital needs of the residents of Gaza.

The Karni Crossing was first closed on 11 June 2007. It is the main crossing through which goods are imported and supplied to the Gaza Strip. According to a report issued by the United Nations' Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which operates in Gaza, Israel partially opened the crossing after 11 June 2007 for a period of five days in order to allow the entry of supplies of wheat. The closure of the crossing to and from Gaza has lead to a severe and dangerous shortage in raw materials and essential materials and foodstuffs, which has and continues to cause great harm to the economy of Gaza, which has been in sharp decline for several years. This decline has in turn lead to the loss of jobs and livelihood in the area.

According to a report issued by OCHA on 28 June 2007, the United Nations' World Food Programme is supplying food aid consisting of basic materials for approximately 377,000 Palestinians living in Gaza (i.e. there has been a substantial increase in a number of Palestinians who receive aid as a result of the current situation in Gaza). OCHA states in the same report that 87% of the residents of the Gaza Strip are living below the poverty line (calculated by OCHA at less than US$ 2.40 per day).

In the petition, Attorney El-�Ajou argued that reports published by the UN and other world aid organizations clearly indicate that Israel is not providing for the humanitarian needs of Palestinians living of Gaza, and that Israel is therefore violating their rights to life, to live in dignity, to health, and to an adequate standard of living.

Furthermore, the petitioners argued that the closure of Karni violates the Agreement on Movement and Access signed between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority in November 2005. Under this agreement Israel is obliged to allow 400 trucks to enter into Gaza every day.

Under international law, Israel is obliged to enable the movement of goods to and from the Gaza Strip because it continues to occupy the Gaza Strip, even after the disengagement. Israel is still considered as occupying the Gaza Strip under international law on the basis that it still exercises effective control over the lives of the residents of Gaza and border points that connect Gaza to the outside world. The residents of Gaza cannot obtain goods via air or sea because Israel still controls the territorial waters and airspace of Gaza. �The state cannot justify paralyzing the lives of a million and a half human beings and holding them hostage to the political situation. Therefore Israel must find appropriate ways of coordinating with the Palestinians for the purpose of opening the crossings,� the petitioners argued.

Adalah also emphasized that the closure of Karni Crossing and non-provision for the essential needs of the residents of Gaza constitutes a prohibited act under international humanitarian law and is considered a collective punishment against civilians.

H.C. 5523/07, Adalah v. The Prime Minister, et al. (pending)

 The Second Petition (H)
 The Initial Response of the State (H)
 The Decision of the Supreme Court, 28 June 2007 (H)
 The First Petition (H)