The High Court of Justice on Monday heard a petition by extreme leftist organizations regarding the IDF’s rules of engagement when confronting rioters at the Gaza border. The petition was filed by Adalah and Yesh Din, both recipients of large donations from anti-Israeli European sources. The petitioners demand that the High Court order the state to order the IDF to stop sniper fire against terrorists who in recent weeks have been rushing the border fence separating the Gaza Strip border fence.
At the hearing, the Commander of the IDF Operations Dept. Major General Nitzan Alon wanted to submit to the court a classified report, but the petitioners’ objected, according to Srugim. Moments later, Alon asked to leave for a military operational meeting, and the presiding Judge, Court President Esther Hayut, said: “As far as we are concerned, the general can be released, he is not needed here today.”
The lawyers for the leftist NGOs argued throughout the hearing that the IDF’s rules of engagement should be changed in such a way that live fire would be used only at targets that constitute an immediate danger. The state representative responded by attempting to present the classified report, arguing that the disagreement between the petitioners and the state was over facts.
“There’s no way to bridge the gap between the presentation of the events in the petition and the situation on the ground where the decisions are made,” the attorney for the state argued, telling the court that “the only way to bridge this gap is to allow the presentation of intelligence material.”
“Judicial review can’t be exercised when the facts are not in the possession of the court,” the state attorney argued.
In an exchange between the judges and the state attorney’s representative, the former inquired whether there had been a change of mind on the part of the military regarding the response to the riots at the Gaza border, and whether it was legitimate to use lethal fire to such an extent (there have been 45 dead in 30 separate riots over the past five weeks).
The state attorney suggested the conditions at the Gaza border are identical to the conditions at the border with Lebanon, when, back in 2011, an IDF force fired and wounded one Muniv al-Masri, an Arab who participated in a mass-rushing of the border (the event was coordinated with three similar events that surrounded Israel along its entire border). The court ruling supported the IDF’s use of the rules of engagement in dealing with al-Masri, who sued the IDF. The rules back then—as they are now—called for a warning, to be followed by shooting in the air, to be followed by shooting at the approaching hostile, preferably at the legs.