Court: No humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Human rights groups withdraw High Court of Justice petition on Karni crossing.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday accepted the state's argument that there was currently no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and that the state was making maximum efforts to keep the Karni crossing open and enable cargo trucks to cross over between the Gaza Strip and Israel. As a result, the petitioners, including the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, represented by Gisha, the Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement, took the advice of Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and withdrew their petition. But Gisha attorney Sari Bashi told The Jerusalem Post that the petitioners also accepted the court's invitation to petition again if they concluded that there was a humanitarian crisis and that they would closely monitor the situation in the Gaza Strip. "It is true that the crisis of supply in the Gaza Strip has eased," said Bashi. "However, there is an economic crisis which is deteriorating to the point of a humanitarian crisis." Bashi also said she did not agree with the court that the state was making maximum efforts to kept the crossing open and added that it was not doing enough to provide alternative routes for those times when the Karni crossing was closed for security reasons. According to UN figures, an average of 4.5 Palestinian trucks per day entered Israel carrying agricultural produce for export during April. The minimum number of trucks required to sustain the Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip was 120 per day, the UN said. Furthermore, according to an agreement on movement and accessibility signed on November 15, 2005, Israel undertook to allow 400 trucks per day to use the Karni crossing by the end of 2006. The inability of Palestinian farmers to export their produce meant layoffs for workers who support large families and force the farmers to either destroy or donate their produce. The state's representative, attorney Aner Hellman, argued that there was no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and that the government did its best to keep Karni open, but that Palestinian terrorists targeted the facility for attacks and the Palestinian Authority did nothing to stop them.