The High Court of Justice on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against the export of 90 monkeys to the United States for research purposes.
Justice Hanan Melcer instructed the Mazor primate breeding farm to respond by Monday to petitions submitted by animal rights' groups Let the Animals Live and Behind Closed Doors against the export.
In issuing the injunction the High Court struck down a Central District Court decision from earlier this week, ordering the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to approve the primates' export over the objections of Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and animal rights advocates.
Erdan had asked the district court to delay its ruling for two weeks in order to allow him to discuss the issue with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, but his request was denied.
The High Court also instructed the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which is responsible for issuing export permits for wild animals, to respond to the petition.
Representatives from the groups that petitioned the High Court said there was a great deal of evidence that serious abuse has occurred at the U.S. laboratory to which the animals are to be sent.
Erdan, who joined the rights groups' petition, is now working on a new policy that would prohibit the export of animals from commercial farms in Israel except under extraordinary circumstances.
In the petition submitted to the High Court on Wednesday, attorneys Amir Rosenberg and Yonatan Spiegel for Let the Animals Live said that exporting the monkeys went against the environmental protection minister's policy because it had not been proved that the animals were to be used in research intended to save human lives or to prevent suffering.
The petition also said the Mazor facility was only permitted to export monkeys that had been born in captivity, while the monkeys that are to take part in the experiment in the U.S. lab had been caught in the wild.
"It is difficult to take in the extent of the failures and illegalities of the actions of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in this case," Let the Animals Live said in a statement. "Of all things, the agency that is supposed to protect wild animals has abandoned them to the merchants of the Mazor farm, who see them as a commercial and economic opportunity and stop at nothing in their attempt to illegally sell monkeys captured in the wild."
Behind Closed Doors said it hoped "the High Court will put an end to the scandalous conduct of the Mazor farm and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority."
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