Supreme Court criticizes curfew in Hebron

The Supreme Court held proceedings today, 16.3.03, on the petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and two Hebron residents, demanding that the IDF immediately lift the total military curfew that it has imposed for over two months on the 45,000 Palestinian residents of Hebron’s Old City and the neighborhoods surrounding Givat Harsina. The curfew was imposed following a weekend of unrest in January, in which area settlers rampaged through Palestinian neighborhoods, damaging homes and property.

During the proceedings, Supreme Court Justice Mazza stated that as an issue of principle using the curfew as a preventive measure rather than as a temporary targeted response to security needs in a specific area is of questionable legitimacy. ACRI stressed the impact of the curfew, which denies Hebron residents the right to freedom of movement, access to their jobs, the ability to obtain food and medicine, and the ability to receive medical treatment. The justices had stated in a prior hearing that the government had not sufficiently answered the petitioners’ charge that the victims of the unrest, rather than the aggressors, were being singled out for punishment. In further support of ACRI’s argument, the Attorney General independently sent a letter to the IDF Chief of Staff citing that the imposition of a curfew is a drastic measure and that an alternative means of maintaining order must be found.

In the previous hearing held on this petition in January, the Court had already conveyed their criticism of the IDF actions. Justice Strasberg-Cohen stated that the imposition of a curfew on the victims of violent attack was extremely problematic. She demanded to know if the IDF had taken steps in order to prevent future attacks by settlers against Palestinian residents.

Justice Dorner was dissatisfied with the government’s claim that the curfew meets humanitarian standards because it is temporarily lifted for a period of 4 hours once every few days in order to allow residents to restock food and supplies. She expressed doubt that the rules regarding the temporary lifting of the curfew (as related in the government’s response) were sufficient, and conveyed that the extended curfew does not comply with the principles to which the State of Israel subscribes.

The Court ordered that the government submit within 7 days a response regarding the official regulations for the lifting of the curfew.

Related Links:

  • Association for Civil Rights Israel