Israel’s High Court of Justice has instructed that the restrictions at Ben Gurion airport cannot be extended beyond March 20 when the current regulations expire. The restrictions include a maximum of 3,000 passengers per day flying into Israel and the need for approval by an exemptions committee for passengers flying in and out who are not vaccinated against Covid or have not recovered from the virus. Supreme Court President Chief Jusrtice Judge Esther Hayut said that the restrictions cannot be extended unless, “The state can present comprehensive and up to date factual evidence and ensure that the regulations comply as required with constitutional tests.”
“Even in a tough crisis such as the global pandemic, human rights and civil rights cannot be pushed underground,” Judge Hayut said in a dramatic ruling in response to a range of petitions against the state for violating basic citizens’ rights through the way the skies have been closed by imposing passenger quotas.
Earlier this week, Israel’s Ministry of Transport eased the situation by lifting restrictions on the number of destinations that airlines can fly to and from. Previously airlines could only fly to eight destinations.
But while quotas remain not all the Israelis who want to return home and vote in next Tuesday’s elections would have been able to do so.
Hayut was harshly critical of the state for its conduct and violating human rights with its closed skies policy, especially as the Knesset elections draw near. She said, “We should not allow the spirit of the new routine to numb constitutional senses and push major civil rights to the margins.”
One of the petitioners, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel said in response to the ruling, “The State of Israel is the only democracy in the world that has closed its doors to its citizens and is doing this and even preventing them from the basic right of voting in elections. This is just another particularly bad symptom of the government’s conduct during the coronavirus crisis, of impulsive decision making from moment to moment while constantly trampling on basic constitutional rights. We welcome this important ruling by the Supreme Court and call on all Israeli citizens to return home and vote in the elections.”
The Israel Association of Public Health Physicians of the Israel Medical Association said, “Unfortunately, instead of planning and implementing sustainable solutions at Ben Gurion airport and the borders, the government has issued illogical and impossible to apply instructions while creating problematic exemptions committees. This situation harmed both passengers and public health. We hope that following the High Court’s ruling, the government will implement balanced professional solutions for the intelligent management of transit points and borders.”
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 17, 2021
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