Palestinian gas mask appeal dismissed

In today’s ruling the Israeli High Court did not accept the petition submitted by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society regarding the distribution of gas masks and kits to weak and vulnerable sectors of society.

The High Court Justices- Mazza, Dorner and Grunis- continued today, 18 February 2003, in the typical Israeli judicial tradition which applies a different set of rules to the West Bank and Gaza Strip by not accepting the petition which demanded the distribution of gas masks and kits along with the dissemination of information and shelters for the residents of the Occupied Territories, Migrant Workers (“Foreign Workers”), Bedouin residents of the “unrecognized” villages and prisoners and detainees.

At the start of the hearing- before Adv. Muhammed Dahla, who is representing the petitioners, had a chance to present his case- Justice Mazza suggested that the petitioners cancel their petition. Additionally, the Justice asked: “Are you suggesting to distribute gas masks also to the residents of Kuwait and Bahrain?”

The main portion of the hearing revolved around the matter of the responsibility of the State of Israel, as an occupying power, towards the residents of the Occupied Territories. In its rejection of the petition the court continues its tradition of legitimizing the occupation policy along with allowing Israel to continue its effective control over the lives of millions of Palestinians without being held responsible for them and their wellbeing.

For some unclear reason, the High Court persists on recognizing the continued existence of the Oslo Accords even though they in effect fell apart in September 2000 and led to the re-occupation of all of the territories. In essence, these accords, which were supposed to improve the situation of the Palestinian population, have now become- with the approval of the High Court- a tool which causes harm to the Palestinian people while essentially relinquishing Israel of its responsibility towards that very same population.

Unfortunately, the Justices did not bother treating the issue in regards to the additional three groups mentioned in the petition. There is no need for an additional petition or for new information in order to understand that the Migrant Worker population is not receiving any information about their right to obtain gas masks and kits. Additionally, in order to receive the gas masks, a passport must be presented, and for those who lack a passport (since they were taken by their Israeli employers) the problem remains unsolved. As well, there is no need for comprehensive affidavits- as the High Court demands- in order to understand that there are no shelters for Bedouin residents of the “unrecognized” villages in the Negev region.

In order to maintain face, the High Court Justices decided not to accept the petition in its current format, and to allow the petitioners to resubmit a petition when they have new information.

Related Links:

  • Gas Masks and Kits for Palestinians, Bedouin Residents of ‘Unrecognized’ Villages, Prisoners and Detainees and Migrant Workers, complete text High Court petition, Physicians for Human Rights, Palestinian Red Crescent Society
  • Physicians for Human Rights - Israel
  • Palestinian Red Crescent Society