[With IDF reply]: PHR-Israel- Petition to High Court: End dire situation at
[IMRA: Physicians for Human Rights-Israel receives contributions through
the New Israel Fund.
IMRA faxed a copy of this announcement to the IDF Spokesperson's Office on
29 July asking for comment. The following is a translation of their
"In the wake of security warnings regarding the intentions of terror
organizations to carry out bombing attacks in the area of the international
crossing in Rafah, it was decided on 17/7 to close it. Before the closing
of the crossing an announcement to that effect was sent to Egypt and the
Palestinian Authority in order to prevent the arrival of people to the
In light of the closing of the Rafah crossing, it was decided in the
security system to open the Nitzana terminal in order to enable the return
of Palestinians from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, but the realization of the
plan has been stuck due to the lack of cooperation and its absolute
rejection by officials in the Palestinian Authority. It should be
emphasized that the offer still stands.
The opening of the Rafah Crossing is examined from time to time in light of
the warnings and threats."]
287/2004 Physicians for Human Rights-Israel www.phr.org.il
Petition to High Court: End dire situation at Rafah Crossing
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, together with Al-Mezan Center for Human
Rights, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, and 12 residents of the Gaza
Strip who are currently stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah Border
Crossing, petitioned the Israeli High Court today demanding that the Israeli
army immediately find an acceptable solution to the current crisis at the
Over 2500 Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip- including patients,
children and the elderly- are currently stranded on the Egyptian side of the
Rafah crossing- some have been waiting there for more than two weeks.
One of the petitioners is a pregnant woman- the situation is putting the
fetus as well as the mother's health at risk. According to various health
sources there are approximately 1000, or more, patients returning from
medical care who are stranded.
Since 10 July 2004, the crossing has been closed in both directions and has
been open for only 2 days. This has created a situation in which people
returning from Egypt to Gaza, many after having undergone medical treatment,
are unable to return home. They are also unable to return to Egypt because
of monetary problems. The Rafah crossing is essentially the only exit and
entrance point for Palestinian residents of the strip. The Israeli
authorities say they closed the crossing for security reasons.
These people severely lack basic supplies such as medicines, food and water.
The people are waiting in a small confined waiting area. From testimonies
received by Al-Mezan Center and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the
situation is dire.
The petitioners claim that Israel, as decreed in previous Israeli High Court
rulings and according to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), is required
to care for the humanitarian needs of these people, even though, due to the
Israeli restrictions, they are physically located at the moment in Egypt. In
addition, the High Court has already stated on a previous occasion
(Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, et. al. petition to the High Court
during the incursion into Rafah in May 2004) that the army must actively
concern itself with caring for the health and humanitarian needs of the
Palestinian civil population before it implements military action.
Currently, the Israeli army has offered only symbolic solutions to solving
the problem, such as having 5 Palestinian buses a day transfer the people
back into Gaza, via the Nitsanim crossing ( 70 km south of Rafah ). Being
that over 2500 people are stranded, this solution is not truly an option.
The petitioners demand that the crossing be opened, and if this is not
possible, that the army supply viable alternative solutions.
The petitioners, who are represented by Adv. Ihab `Iraqi, demand that Israel
care for the humanitarian needs of the people and find an immediate
solution, with or without the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority, as
it is required to do by IHL and its own court's rulings.