A demonstration at the Kerem Shalom Crossing
A demonstration at the Kerem Shalom CrossingTzav 9

An appeal was filed with the Supreme Court this morning against the general of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, claiming he issued orders declaring the Kerem Shalom and Nitzana border crossings a closed military zone to prevent political protests and not for security reasons.

The appeal claims that the use of such an order for political reasons is invalid. “Despite the difficult security situation in which citizens of Israel find themselves, and despite the cries of happiness that were heard throughout Gaza when the hostages were brought through the streets of cities in Gaza, Israel's leadership has decided over the past few weeks that due to international pressure, it should transfer supplies to the enemies in Gaza under the guise of humanitarian aid.”

The appeal also stated that the protest did not endanger anyone, did not cause any damage, and that there was no justification to prevent it, certainly not a draconian step such as declaring a closed area as the general has elected to do.

The appeal notes “Over the year that preceded the war, the daily routine of Israelis began to revolve around the intense protest against the government's policies. Blocking traffic on major roads and violence in the streets were commonplace. Have we seen military commanders issuing such orders to areas of violent protests? At most, the police attempt to clear violent protesters, largely ineffectively and with little outwardly displayed motivation. We have never seen the use of an order to prevent all protesters from reaching an area. At any rate, the treatment of protests such as this is not within the authority of a military commander, and the use of defense ordinances for the purpose of suppressing a public protest is completely unacceptable.”

The appeal concludes: “Beyond this unacceptable use of the defense ordinances, we believe that for the purpose of dealing with protests, the police should be given preference, as the responsibility for public order is their authority and responsibility. Use of soldiers against civilians aggravates the sensibilities of the public.”

The appeal was filed by attorney Nati Rom of the Honenu legal aid organization, representing a number of the families of hostages, bereaved families, the Choosing Life Forum, and media advisor Yaakov Selah.

The Bochrim Bachaim (Choosing Life Forum) stated: “The protest against allowing humanitarian supplies to those who kidnapped and murdered our relatives is the most justified in the world, and the attempt to stop it with military orders is a disgrace. We demand that the protests be allowed, and absolutely not be stopped with measures intended to protect Israel's security.”

Attorney Nati Rom, who represents the parties presenting the appeal, stated: “My clients, including the father of one of the hostages, bereaved parents, and social activists, along with all of Israel, do not understand why the government of Israel is transferring aid to an enemy during wartime when the head of the ISA has stated that sixty to seventy percent of the aid is taken directly by Hamas. The use of draconian orders to prevent one of the most legitimate protests Israel has ever seen is outrageous and indicates a complete misunderstanding of what the orders were intended for, and I hope that the court will order them nullified.”