In the case of the refugees trapped on the Israeli border, as in the matter of hunger striking prisoner Khader Adnan, Israel’s highest court wriggled out of a decision, escaping the shackles of democracy and international law that are supposed to guide its work.
Last February, a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail was on the verge of death, more than two months into a hunger strike he had launched in protest of his administrative detention order under Israeli military law. On Sunday, February 19, the High Court of Justice agreed to hear Khader Adnan’s petition against the order – and scheduled the hearing for five days later, the following Thursday. The date came as a surprise, as it was clear that Adnan might not make it that long. Indeed, as his condition rapidly deteriorated, the High Court agreed to move the hearing up by two days. But before it could rule on the petition, which challenged the entire administrative detention system, the state struck a deal with Adnan’s attorneys, securing his agreement to call off his strike in exchange for a guaranteed release two months later.
Yesterday marked the end of a saga that saw 21 Eritrean asylum seekers stranded for seven days behind a fence on the Israel-Egypt border in the scorching desert sun. They had all made the harrowing journey through Sinai, likely enduring the horrors of notorious torture camps run by human smugglers in the desert peninsula. The Israeli soldiers stationed on the border were instructed to give the asylum seekers little water and no food, and aid workers were refused access to them. Refugee rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand Israel adhere to principles of international refugee law and allow the asylum seekers entry to submit their refugee claims. The High Court heard the petition on Thursday, but decided to wait until Sunday to hand down its decision, leaving the group languishing in the desert. But several hours later, the state announced it had reached a “deal” with the asylum seekers, whereby