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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Israel's Supreme Court empowers the 'Palestinians'

Israel's tunnel-visioned 'Supreme Court' has once again dealt the security of all Israelis a decisive blow. Six months ago, the court barely upheld the government's right to bar 'Palestinians' from moving their residences into the area within the green line. Today, the court used the virtual constitution that it created to strike down a law passed by the Knesset on July 27, 2005, that restricted the ability of 'Palestinians' to file claims for compensation due to activities undertaken by the IDF in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that damaged 'Palestinians.' As a result, some 600 claims are likely to be filed against the government, and an additional 550 claims that have been frozen are likely to proceed, costing the government hundreds of millions of Shekels.
A High Court of Justice panel headed by retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak ruled on Tuesday that Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza could file lawsuits against Israel for damages incurred in IDF operations, provided that the operations in question did not take place as part of a clearly defined "war."

The court ruled, however, that citizens of enemy states and members of terrorist organizations would not be permitted to file for compensation from the state.

MK Haim Oron (Meretz-Yahad) welcomed the ruling, and said he regretted that the Knesset put Israel in a position in which the High Court was required to overrule laws. Meretz-Yahad chair Yossi Beilin said that the ruling restored Israel's "image of morality."

MK Michael Eitan (Likud) said that if the High Court continued to overrule laws, democracy in Israel would be wiped out, and the IDF would find it impossible to defend the country's citizens. MK Zvi Hendel (NU-NRP) argued that the justices had ignored the security situation in the Palestinian territories, and insisted that Palestinian civilians were not "innocent" so long as they "embraced terrorists."

The petition was originally filed on September 1, 2005 by nine human rights organizations - including Adalah, Hamoked, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Al-Haq, B'Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights.

The law almost completely denies residents of areas declared "zones of conflict" compensation for any damages they have sustained by agents of the State of Israel no matter what the circumstances. The law also denies compensation to citizens of enemy states and activists in terrorist organizations, even if the injury they sustained is unrelated to the conflict.

The law was applied retroactively to the beginning of the second intifada (September 29, 2000) and prohibits the court from hearing torts already filed unless the hearings on evidence have already begun. [For the lawyers out there, ex post facto laws are legal here. CiJ]

The petitioners charged that the law violated international humanitarian law, according to which Israel, as the occupying power, was responsible for the safety and well-being of the civilian population under occupation. They also claimed that the law violated the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom by denying the right of civilians to remedy or relief for the infringement of fundamental rights, including the right to life and limb.

In its rebuttal of the petition, the state argued that the intifada "is a war to all intents and purposes" and that the torts law was appropriate only for peace time. They added that the terrorists were responsible for the fact that Palestinian civilians were hurt and that, just as Israel looked after its own dead and wounded, the Palestinian Authority should do the same for its victims.

"Responding to the terrorist assault obliged Israel to take unique measures," the state maintained. "Fighting against terrorism is not like fighting a war against a regular army. The terrorists deliberately operate from within the civilian population. They do not identify themselves as combatants so that finding them requires fighting in densely occupied civilian areas..."
For those who want more background on Israel's Supreme Court, I suggest reading Israel's Judicial Tyranny.


At 5:58 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Israel is the only country I know of which, in victory, is required to compenstate the loser.

Ya just can't live without that Israel Double Standard.


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