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Israeli court: 'Wounded Gaza residents not eligible to seek compensation'

Nov. 16, 2018 11:19 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 22, 2018 12:20 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court has ruled that the State of Israel is "not liable for damages for the shooting and serious wounding of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip in 2014," and that "Gaza Palestinians are not entitled to seek compensation for damages from Israel" as they live in an "enemy entity."

In a press release, Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said that Israeli forces had opened fire at Attiya Fathi al-Nabahin on November 11th 2014, while he was on his family's property near the al-Breij refugee camp, just 500 meters from the security border fence with Israel. As a result of the shooting, Nabahin was left quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair.

The Beer Sheba District Court rejected, on November 4th, a case filed by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Adalah on behalf of the 15-year-old and his family against the Israeli military in the shooting.

According to Article 5/B-1 of the 8th Amendment of the Civil Wrongs Law (State Responsibility) of 1952, "residents of a territory declared by the Israeli government as ‘enemy territory,'" as Gaza was declared in 2007, "are not eligible to seek compensation from Israel."

The press release added that by upholding the constitutionality of this new law, enacted in 2012, all Gaza residents are now banned from redress and remedy in Israel, regardless of the circumstances and the severity of the injury or damages claimed.

With this ruling, the court rejected the position maintained by Al Mezan and Adalah that the law is unconstitutional and in violation of international law.

The 8th Amendment also introduced criteria that are nearly impossible to meet for victims from Gaza. For example, "Gaza residents who suffer wounds or damages during military operations by the Israeli military are not eligible to seek compensation."

"In other cases, in order for Gaza residents to initiate torts claims in Israel, they must submit a notification with the Israeli Ministry of Defense within 60 days from the date of the incident. They must pay a court guarantee of thousands of US dollars and they must personally give power of attorney to lawyers in Israel and obtain permits to give witness statements in court."

Adalah stressed that this new amendment has paved the way for the dismissal of hundreds of cases in recent years, with courts mostly relying on the justification that the damages occurred during military operations or that witnesses failed to appear in court.

In this case, the victim is a child who was shot in the absence of military activity and his family, complied with all of the above-listed, stringent criteria. Nevertheless, Israel argued that the child was not eligible for compensation, resorting for the first time to the simple justification that he is "a resident of Gaza."

The press release mentioned that Al Mezan and Adalah were "extremely alarmed" by the ruling and that it sends the "very dangerous message that Gaza residents are not entitled to compensation or legal recourse in Israel in any circumstances, in contradiction of international obligations on access to justice and accountability."

Due to the ruling, "Israel declared that it absolves itself from the responsibilities, as a state, to investigate, deter, and take responsibility for violations by its armed and security forces."

Both human rights groups said that "The ruling grants comprehensive immunity to the Israeli military and the State for illegal, reprehensible, and even criminal actions taken during military operations in occupied territories, including the Gaza Strip, and leaves their victims without any hope of compensation."

Al Mezan and Adalah also stressed that the court's refusal to hear such cases "violates the right of Gaza residents to fulfill their right to 'effective legal remedy' from the occupying power as guaranteed to them under international humanitarian law."

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