Israel’s Supreme Court opens airport, rules limiting arrivals is illegal

The judges suggested that the decision to limit arrivals at 3,000 people was arbitrary, and that the number was not based on scientific data.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that all restrictions on the number of arriving Israeli citizens at Ben Gurion Airport will be lifted, starting Saturday.

Citing the upcoming national election in six days, in which citizens can vote only if they’re physically present in the country, the Court said all Israelis must be free to enter the Jewish State.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut and judges Neal Hendel and Yitzhak Amit wrote that the arrival restrictions “violate the basic constitutional right to enter and exit Israel, and other rights at the core of the democratic fabric of life.”

The decision is a reversal of Israel’s most recent policy which limited arrivals to 3,000 people daily. Between late January and early March, Israel granted entry to citizens only on the basis of exceptional circumstances, effectively locking out tens of thousands of Israelis abroad.

The judges suggested that the decision to limit arrivals at 3,000 people was arbitrary, and that the number was not based on scientific data.

“The restrictions were set without the government having any data about the number of citizens abroad who want to return to the country… instead of investing efforts and resources in enforcing quarantine… the government preferred to impose a regime of entry quotas, which is more simple to implement but infringes much more on basic rights,” they wrote.

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The decision was met with dismay by coronavirus czar Nachman Ash, who told Channel 12 News that the ruling is “worrying, because it will allow the entry of a lot of illness and dangerous [coronavirus] variants.”

In a statement, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin blasted the decision, saying “judges come and say ‘We’ll endanger all your lives for a constitutional principle from a non-existent principle.”

Also on Wednesday, the Knesset approved a bill requiring travelers returning from abroad to quarantine with an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The device will serve as an alternative to state-run quarantine hotels.