HCJ rejects last pre-pullout petition

Court rules sanctions against settlers who didn't leave home on time are legal.

evacuation morag 298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
evacuation morag 298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
An expanded panel of nine High Court justices unanimously rejected on Wednesday the last in a long list of petitions filed last year before the disengagement from Gaza, ruling that criminal and administrative sanctions against settlers who did not leave their homes on time were legal. "We are satisfied that under the circumstances, the petitioners have acceptable alternative remedies to justify the rejection of the petition without further consideration," wrote Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak. "On the basis of the statement submitted by the state, it is clear that the petition, regarding both the administrative and the criminal aspects, is relevant to only to a handful of settlers who used force [against the security forces] during the evacuation." The petition was submitted by Attorney Yossi Fuchs, a leader of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which took upon itself to represent the settlers during the months leading up to the disengagement. In the petition, Fuchs argued that the so-called Disengagement-Compensation Law included provisions that violated the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, because they sought to punish people who were thrown out of their homes. One of the provisions in the law called for a punishment of up to six months in jail for anyone who did not leave the Gaza Strip within 48 hours of Evacuation Day (August 15, 2005). The other called for forfeiture of some of the financial benefits offered to the settlers, in addition to their compensation, if they did not evacuate their homes within the same period of time. After the disengagement was completed, the state informed the court that it had decided to apply these sanctions only in cases where settlers had used force to resist the evacuation. In the case of the criminal sanction, this meant that indictments were only filed against settlers who used force, not against those who did not leave Gaza on time. With regard to the economic sanctions, this meant that anyone who stood to lose the special grants provided by law could apply to a special committee established to hear individual complaints by settlers who had special problems or who had been deprived of their benefits because they did not leave the area on time.