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(en) Israel-Palestine, Fig leaf to war crimes by Ïsraeli High Court of ¨Justice¨

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 5 Jul 2004 11:53:36 +0200 (CEST)

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http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

This morning, the hard-fought struggle around "The Separation Wall" was
transplanted - from the environment of sun-baked West Bank hills and
churning bulldozers and uprooted olive trees and exploding tear gas
canisters, and into the exquisitely neat hall of the Supreme Court in
Jerusalem. That hall was highly crowded as we waited tensely for the final verdict.
A lot has gone into the particular case before the court this morning.
Should the wall go up along the planned route, Beit Surik and Bidu and
six other villages north-east of Jerusalem stand to lose most of their
agricultural land and become an isolated enclave, surrounded and enclosed
on almost all sides. The villagers' tenacious struggle and refusal to
give up their land, their daily unarmed marches towards the encroaching
bulldozers, had already cost five of them their lives - three of these
being shot down during a single bloody day at Bidu. This struggle
succeeded in arousing the sympathy and solidarity of quite a few
Israelis: young anarchists who came day after day to share in their
struggle and the risk; the people of Mevaseret Tzion, the Israeli town
right across the pre-'67 border from Beit Surik, many of whose
inhabitants joined in the appeal against the route of the fence
supposedly intended for their own security; the ex-generals organised in
"The council for Peace and Security" who presented an affidavit stating,
on the basis of their professional reputation, that the route of the
fence was wrong from the purely military point of view...
Israelis and Palestinians involved in the struggle were there in big
numbers this
morning - as were quite a few representatives of the other side, military officers
and security operatives with their inevitable sunglasses. Several people had with
them this morning's Ha'aretz, in which the editorial enumerated the great hardships
caused to Palestinian population by the Wall and called for amelioration, without
once mentioning the fact (obviously known to the editors) that the judges were to
rule today on the very same issue.
In the last few minutes before the judges' entry, intensive speculation and hot
debates between optimists and pessimists flared up. "What do you think? What can we
hope for?" asked anxioulsy a young activist who just a few days ago spent time in
police detention, following the anti-Wall demo at A-Ram. "Better not expect too
much. Very often these kind of case ends in a colorless, vague compromise" warned a
grizzled, white-haired lawyer. But when Supreme Court President Aharon Barak filed
in a few minutes later, flanked by his colleagues Eliyahu Mazza and Mishael
Cheshin, he was sharp and incisive from beginning to end of his presentation.

"We have been presented with an appeal by the inhabitants of several Palestinian
villages, disputing eight separate confiscation orders whose purpose is the
building of the Separation Fence.
"First, we had to deal with the fundamental issue: does the government has the
authority to build a fence within Judea and Samaria and confiscate land for that
purpose? It is our definite opinion that, were the fence built in order to achieve
political purposes, its building would have been utterly inconsistent with
International Law and thus illegal. However, we reject the appellants' contention
that such was the government's purpose in building the fence. We see no reason to
dispute the state's position that the purpose is purely one of defence against a
threat to the security of Israel's citizens, threatened by suicide bombers.
But even having the authority to build the fence, the government is duty bound to
keep the right balance security needs with the rights and interests of the local
population which might get hurt by its erection. The government's duty to act with
proportionality, to cause no more damage than absolutely necessary, is laid down
explicitly both in International Law and in the Israeli administrative law - and
the state did not give proper consideration to that duty. While the security
considerations are highly important, due consideration must be given to the fact
that the fence damages the daily life of thirty-five thousand local inhabitants.
Thousands of dunums [Dunum = about 1/4 acre.Ed.] are taken up by the fence route
itself. Tens of thousands dunums more are cut off from their owners. The proposed
permits regime, which would give access to the land under restrictive conditions
cannot significantly reduce the damage. [Through earlier appeals, the Supreme Court
was made aware that in villages where the Separation Fence was already erected, the
army is often keeping closed the 'agriculatural gates' which are supposed to give
farmers access to their land - in many cases causing irreversible damage to
plantings left untended. ed.]. The entire fabric of daily life in around the fence
is severally damage.
In light of the above, we rule that the military commander had not taken proper
care to balance security needs with the interests and needs of local population,
and that he must reconsider and and reduce the damage to these needs and interests
(even if it cannot be completely avoided).
While we recognize the state's contention that the original route gives an
additional amount of security as compared to the proposed alternative routes, such
as the one proposed by the Council for Peace and Security. But this addition is the
amount of security is not proportional to the severe damage caused by the proposed
route of the fence would cause to the local population - damage which can be
significantly reduced by defining a new route. Therefore, the state has not
fulfilled its duty of acting with proportionality.
In conclusion, we declare six of the eight confiscation orders subjected to our
consideration null and void, we uphold one of them, and we order the state to
reconsider the last one in light of the principles we have set forth."

Commentators on the radio soon made the import more plain: 30 kilometers of fence,
out of the 40 dealt with in this case, would have to be changed; three kilometers
of already erected fence would need to be torn down, and in other section the army
would have to make restitution for the damage caused by its "infrastructure work",
especially the cutting down of hundreds of olive trees.

In a parting blow, the judges ordered the state to pay the Palestinian appellants
twenty thousand Shekels in lawyers' fees - which, in terms of the Supreme Court's
etiquette, may be considered a high indication of the court's disapproval of the
government's case.
Referense: Search google for ´anarchists against the wall´ + ´ainfos´

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