Israeli government proposes blocking Palestinian compensation suits

Israeli soldiers laugh as a blindfolded Palestinian detainee climbs out of an armored personnel carrier after being arrested during “Operation Rainbow” in Rafah, on 19 May 2004. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

The Israeli government has proposed an amendment to the Civil Wrongs Law intended to exempt Israel from paying compensation to Palestinians injured by the security forces. The amendment applies to ” residents of a conflict area” and “subjects of enemy states.” The Government has clearly stated its intention to apply the new law to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Today, Palestinians are not able to sue the state for damages caused by combatant activity, broadly defined as, “…any action of combating terror, hostile actions, or insurrection, and action intended to prevent terror and hostile acts and insurrection committed in circumstances of danger to life or limb.” If the Knesset passes the new amendment, it will almost completely block the ability of Palestinians to file for compensation, even for damage caused by illegal shooting, looting, negligence on training grounds, abuse and degrading treatment at checkpoints, or physical violence.

The law is blatantly discriminatory in that it denies the right to sue for compensation based on the identity of the victim, rather than the substance of the claim.

B’Tselem joined together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel , HaMoked, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel , Adallah and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to warn against the grave implications of passing such a law. The organizations calls on the government to remove this amendment from the Knesset docket, thereby preventing a stain upon its law books.

Urgent Action:

The Knesset’s Law, Constitution and Justice Committee is expected to vote on Wednesday to approve the amendment and return it to the Knesset plenary for the second and third readings, necessary to enact it into law. If passed, the law will almost completely exempt Israel from paying compensation to Palestinians injured by the security forces.

Write to the committee chairman, MK Michael Eitan, calling on him to act to prevent passage of Amendment 5 to the Civil Wrongs Law. Fax: +972-2-6496404 or

Related Links

  • New Israeli bill would deny compensation for death or injury caused by Israeli soldiers, HRW (26 June 2005)
  • BY TOPIC: Human Rights
  • B’Tselem