Israeli soldiers ride a tank after returning to Israel from Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MK Nachman Shai (Labor) on Monday filed a petition with the High Court of Justice asking it to compel the state to declare Operation Protective Edge officially a war under laws granting greater compensation to civilians damaged by the events of the past month.
Shai, who was joined in the petition by the Front for the Public Defense, said that he filed the petition following an unanswered request to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Knesset Interior Committee failing to act decisively on the issue on Sunday.
He said that the “state was evading taking complete responsibility for the home front and was sufficing with half-hearted steps,” such as announcing that it would take undefined steps to “strengthen” the entire home front.
The petition complained that currently, special compensation for civilians only applies to the Gaza border communities.
The Labor MK said that the entire home front has been damaged by the Gaza war with “rockets landing in the heart of Israeli cities in the country’s center.”
In the petition, Shai noted the home front was under attack not only by rocket fire, but also from Hamas’s underground tunnels.
He added that the situation was a “war in every way” and that while he did not want to interfere in the state’s security and foreign policy decisions, the state could not ignore the tough economic situation faced by citizens.
By framing the issue as economic, though essentially asking for a declaration of war normally viewed as a security issue, Shai appeared to hope to succeed in getting the court to overcome its instinct not to intervene on foreign policy issues.
Shai also explained case law that indicates that a certain level of conflict, such as the current level, is a war, whether it has been formally declared or not.
He said that although the High Court rejected a similar request during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, that eventually the state did recognize that the conflict had been a war.
But Shai complained that because of the delayed recognition, it took months for real assistance to reach certain areas as there was a lack of clarity on the issue, and that this time the court should get the call right from the start.