The State of Israel need not foot the bill for Iron Dome anti-ballistic systems for all towns, the High Court of Justice ruled yesterday.
A three-person panel led by High Court President Dorit Beinisch found for the Defense Ministry, which refused to budget and deploy Iron Dome systems in all towns more than 4.5 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
The wish to supply protection and security - even if sub-optimal - to as many towns as possible must be tempered with considerations of equality, budget constraints, the changing security situation and the government's freedom to set policy based on expert positions, Beinisch ruled along with justices Salim Joubran and Uzi Vogelman. In short, the government's decision was within reason, wrote Vogelman, who penned the three justices' ruling.
As for the petitioners - a group of towns and local councils from the Gaza area - their leaders and residents had hoped the court would order the government to deploy Iron Dome anti-missile systems in ranges beyond 4.5 kilometers from the Gaza border. Alternatively, they demanded government action to build protective rooms in towns near Gaza that are more than 4.5 kilometers from the border.
In February 2008, the government agreed to pay for shielding inside homes within 4.5 kilometers from the border. It explained at the time that the range was based on the need to protect the front line from direct fire, and on "consideration of the planned capabilities of the Iron Dome system."
The petitioners argue that the government's own resolution indicates a promise that towns within 4.5 kilometers of the border would get interior shielded rooms, and towns beyond 4.5 kilometers would get Iron Dome systems. In other words, they said, the state made a promise and can't renege because of budget constraints.
The state countered that the decision on where to deploy Iron Dome systems is a purely military and operational one, and therefore is beyond the courtroom's jurisdiction. That is all the more pertinent given that the footprint of missiles now encompasses all of Israel, and in any case the systems can't be deployed to protect every single plot of land in the country.
The justices agreed, saying no proof had been offered that the state promised to deploy Iron Dome in every town 4.5-plus kilometers from Gaza.
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