COVID-19 sign in front of plane
COVID-19 sign in front of planeiStock

The Israeli Supreme Court struck down key government restrictions on air travel Wednesday, dealing a blow to the government’s airport policies.

A three-judge panel handed down the ruling Wednesday afternoon, excoriating the government over its handling of the issue of air travel during the COVID crisis.

In its ruling, the justices tossed out the limit imposed by the government on the total number of passengers allowed to enter Israel by air each day. The 3,000 passenger daily limit will end on Saturday.

In addition, the court ruled that the requirement for travelers who lack both vaccination certificates and certificates of recovery from COVID to received special permission to travel from a government committee is illegal, striking down the need to receive approval from the exceptions committee. Travelers looking to depart from Israel after this coming Saturday will not be required to receive permission from the exceptions committee.

The justices, led by chief justice Esther Hayut, blasted the government over the way it adopted the restrictions, saying the decisions were made without references to relevant data.

“In the future, any new restrictions on travel into or out of Israel need, in legal terms, a comprehensive, factual, data-based foundation.”

The court also slammed the restrictions themselves, writing in the ruling that the limits constitute an "assault on the very heart of the legal right to enter Israel and to leave it, and other rights that are at the heart of the fabric of life in democratic societies."

"It seems that instead of investing the effort and resources to enforce isolation, the violation of which is at the center of fears of outbreaks of [COVID] variants, the government preferred to impose a regime on entry and departure from Israel that is easier to do, but much more seriously harms basic rights."