Today, the Israeli parliament (‘Knesset’) passed approved a law which severely infringes the basic rights of persons injured by the Israeli occupation army from obtaining compensation. As a result injured and disabled Palestinians, bereaved families, and Palestinians whose property was demolished will be left without relief.
The infringement of human rights inherent in this new law (‘Torts Law, amendment ‘Law for Handling Claims Related to IDF Activity in Judea and Samaria’) is that Palestinians who are unlawfully injured are denied the compensation necessary to return them to their prior condition, to the extent possible and it completely nullifies the basic rights to bodily integrity, life, liberty, and property.
According to the final version of the law, the definition of ‘war activity’ will be broadened - under which Israel is exempted from paying damages - to also include opertions against ‘terror’, ‘hostile activity’ and ‘uprising’. This law states that soldiers’ activities should be seen as ‘war actions’ and any damage caused by these ‘war actions’ is not the state’s responsibility. Israel’s Defense Ministry wanted the law enacted as soon as possible, since each passing day adds to the intifada compensation sums the security system has to pay.
Instances in which compensation will be denied according to this new law include property damage committed by Israeli soldiers while making arrest, negligence wounding of a person at a checkpoint, beating during detention and the death of an infant caused by preventing parents access to hospitals. With this new law, the responsibility of Israeli soldiers of caution toward the civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is completely ignored.
The law seems only to be passed to decrease the amount of compensation Israel would have to pay to Palestinians. LAW believes that monetary liability imposed on Israel under existing law cannot justify the denial of basic rights.
Human rights organizations, including LAW, believe that this law contravenes fundamental principles of human rights and international law. The law is intended to grant immunity to Israel’s occupation army in most of the actions that it performs. The failure to punish adequately or effectively those who commit illegal acts, and, in particular, the failure to hold responsible those who order the commission of such acts, has led to the current situation where Israeli soldiers and officers are secure in the knowledge that such actions are effectively condoned at the highest levels and will be treated accordingly.
The consequence of having no effective local remedies is dismal in any situation; for an occupied population governed by the military force of an occupier, it is frightening, and is the most potent symbol of their powerlessness. In these circumstances, independent human rights monitoring and international protection is the only available remedy.
LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, PO Box 20873, Jerusalem, tel. +972-2-5833530, fax. +972-2-5833317, Email: email@example.com, web: www.lawsociety.org