HROs petition against reduced 'safety margin'

Six groups ask High Court to renew deliberations on a 200-meter reduction in "safety margin" for IDF gunners.

idf artillery 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP )
idf artillery 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP )
Six human rights organizations have called on the High Court of Justice to renew deliberations on their petition to rescind a military order reducing the "safety margin" for IDF artillery and tank gunners from 300 to 100 meters. The reminder was sent to the court on Wednesday in the aftermath of an IDF artillery shelling which killed 19 Palestinians and wounded dozens more in Beit Hanun. According to a preliminary explanation by the army, Wednesday's tragedy was not caused by the shorter safety margin. The two shells that struck homes in Beit Hanun were allegedly aimed 450 meters away at an uninhabited area where, according to army intelligence reports, Palestinian terrorists planned to fire rockets at Ashkelon. The petition against the current army safety margin were submitted on April 16 by Physicians for Human Rights, B'Tselem, The Gaza Community Mental Health Program, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Their lawyer, Michael Sfard, charged that the order to reduce the safety margin was "an illegal order which had a black flag flying over it." Only one hearing has been held on the petition so far, and the court has not handed down any decision. Sfard wrote that at the court's request, the petitioners had submitted a list of the names of the Palestinians who had been killed and wounded, presumably as a result of the reduction in the safety margin. Since then, the court has not even issued a show-cause order as the petitioners had requested. In the meantime, the army has continued to fire shells according to the reduced safety margin and, as a result, the number of casualties has significantly increased, wrote Sfard.