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Israel high court issues injunction against Gaza protester amnesty law

The Israeli Supreme Court [official website] on Sunday issued a 90-day injunction against the enforcement of a law preventing the prosecution of 400 protesters arrested during the 2005 Gaza disengagement [official backgrounder; JURIST report]. The law, passed in January [JURIST report], prevents the prosecution or suspends the sentences of those who were arrested for protesting Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. During the disengagement, the Israeli government dismantled 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], demolished residential buildings and evacuated all security personnel. The plan sparked nationwide protests in which hundreds of thousands participated. In ordering the 90-day injunction, the court ordered the government to explain the law [Haaretz report], otherwise it would be struck down permanently. The court ruled that the amnesty law is inequitable because it favors one group of protesters, while other protesters opposing other government policies are still prosecuted. The ruling came in response to a petition by a group of left-wing protesters arrested while opposing the evacuation Palestinians from the East Jerusalem [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The petitioners claimed that the amnesty law discriminates against them because they still must face prosecution while protesters of an opposing ideology do not.

The Israeli Knesset [official website, in Hebrew] approved the amnesty law in January. The amnesty measure, which passed by a vote of 51-9 [Haaretz report], does not extend immunity to people who committed acts that endangered human life, but rather mainly affects approximately 400 teenagers who were charged with committing minor criminal infractions. This is the third general amnesty measure issued by Israel. The first two were issued after the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1948 and 1967 [NPR backgrounders].

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