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16.5.2018

Human rights organizations to the HCJ: decide on the petition to revoke the rules of engagement in Gaza

On May 15, 2018, in light of the deaths of many Palestinian protestors at the hands of Israeli security forces adjacent to the Gaza Strip fence on May 14, 2018, six human rights organizations submitted an urgent request for an order nisi in their petitions against the legality of the rules of engagement in Gaza. Due to the concern that protests in coming weeks would lead to more deaths, the organizations Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha, HaMoked, Adalah and Al Mezan requested the Court to order the state to prove there is legal justification for the rules of engagement in their present form.


The request was submitted under two petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) in April 2018, demanding that the Court order the revocation of the rules of engagement permitting soldiers to use live ammunition against protestors along the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, even if they do not pose a threat to human life. The request was submitted due to the high number of casualties in recent demonstrations, with many protestors killed at a substantial distance from the fence, while posing no immediate threat to human life or to security forces. In the petition, the organizations claimed that, to the best of their knowledge, the rules of engagement relating to Gaza permit the use of live ammunition on protestors classified as "key agitators" or "major disturbers of the peace", or because of their proximity to the fence (on the Gazan side).


In its response to the petition, the state claimed that the factual basis of the petitions is "flawed and lacking… both in regards to the content of the rules of engagement, and to the nature and essence of the events". The state further claimed that the demonstrations, which were described by the petitioners as "clearly civilian in nature", are in fact "part of the armed conflict between the terror organization Hamas and Israel", but simultaneously acknowledged the fact that "Palestinian civilians who are not involved in terror activities also participate in the events". The state avoided defining all of the protesters as combatants, and as such, in accordance with the law of war – the military must not fire at them, unless they pose an immediate and lethal threat. The state claimed in its response that the framework for firing at the protestors is "the rules of law enforcement within the law of war" – a flimsy legal basis for such extensive harm of the right to life.


A hearing regarding the petitions took place on April 30, 2018, but the judges have yet to decide on the matter.


Despite the fact that human lives are at stake, the HCJ does not find it necessary to discuss the request for an order nisi, stating that "in any case, a decision or judgment will be issued in the near future".


mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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