A medic carries a Palestinian child during a protest in the Gaza Strip
© Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org
A medic carries a Palestinian child during a protest in the Gaza Strip, as part of the Great March of Return, May 14, 2018
The High Court has refrained from ruling on an urgent petition about whether it is legal for the army to shoot unarmed, civilian protesters who pose no threat to human life. They have the blood of 68 people on their hands.

The Israeli army has shot and killed 68 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza while the Israeli High Court deliberates whether or not it is legal to shoot unarmed civilian protesters who pose no threat to human life. That number has likely gone up in the time since this article was published.

When a handful of human rights groups filed an urgent petition to the High Court on April 15, demanding that it strike down the army's open-fire regulations that authorize shooting unarmed civilians just because of their proximity to the Gaza border fence, army snipers had already gunned down 33 unarmed protesters in the Great Return March, including three minors.

While the three Supreme Court justices deliberated, another 68 people have died. The rights groups asked for an urgent decision, hoping to stop the bloodshed.

The justices did not heed their request. No decision has been handed down. The shooting continues. Sixty-eight more people lost their lives.

If, after waiting until the shooting stops, the court ultimately decides that it is not permissible to shoot unarmed, civilian protesters just because of where they are standing, or because they are attempting to cross or even damage a fence, the blood of 68 people will be on their hands.

If the justices decide that it is, indeed, permissible to shoot unarmed civilians just because they might cross a fence, well, then they will have the blood of those 68 people and countless others on their hands.

It's bad enough that this massacre is state sanctioned. By declining to rule in a timely fashion, however, this predictable massacre has also been sanctioned by the judiciary.

Israel's Supreme Court is currently in a fight for its life. The legislature and government are threatening to strip the court of its power to overturn unconstitutional laws and policies. If, out of fear of further angering their detractors in Knesset, the justices did not use that power in this case then they don't deserve to have it in the first place.