Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Supreme court says injured Palestinians can sue


Israel's Supreme Court yesterday ruled that some Palestinians injured by the Israeli military may sue the state for compensation.

A panel of nine judges voted to invalidate an Israeli law imposing a blanket ban on compensation claims regarding areas defined as "conflict areas," but left intact another statute exempting the state for claims for damage or injury incurred specifically during military operations against "an activist or member of a terrorist organization."

A statement by Israeli Arab rights organization Adalah hailed the court decision but predicted more legal wrangles to define who is eligible to file a claim.

"After this decision, Palestinians who have been injured or killed, or who have sustained property damage, outside the context of a so-called combat situation, can again submit tort cases for compensation in Israeli courts against the security forces," it said. "However, we foresee in the future another legal battle on the question of what is the scope of combat operations."

Legislator Michael Eitan of the opposition Likud Party, quoted by the Web site of the Haaretz newspaper, said that such court interference in legislation "will destroy Israeli democracy and the army's defense capabilities."

But members of the dovish camp welcomed the decision.

"Again we see that we are lucky to have the court, which time after time saves the Knesset [parliament] and the government from themselves and is the last protector of human and civil rights," Haaretz quoted lawmaker Ran Cohen as saying.

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