The Right to Compensation for the Violation of Fundamental Rights: the article outlines Israel's duty to compensate Palestinians for the injustices of the occupation and its attempts to evade this duty. The article explains the importance of civil claims for justice on an individual level המוקד להגנת הפרט
14.05.2008
The Right to Compensation for the Violation of Fundamental Rights: the article outlines Israel's duty to compensate Palestinians for the injustices of the occupation and its attempts to evade this duty. The article explains the importance of civil claims for justice on an individual level
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Over the years of Israeli occupation in the Territories, Israel has caused Palestinians damages on an enormous scale. In the early years, in violation of its duties as the occupying power, Israel subjected the Palestinian economy to the interests of its own economy causing Palestinians to depend on Israeli products and jobs. Israel prevented the development of an independent and sustainable Palestinian economy. In addition to the damage it has done and continues to do to the Palestinian economy, Israel's military continues to kill, injure and abuse Palestinians and the Israeli Security Agency tortures them to the point of permanent mental damage and so on and so forth. All this and more add up to an ever increasing debt owed by Israeli society to Palestinians as a public and as individuals. 

The principle that violation of a person's rights requires compensation is well established in international law. It was according to this principle that Israeli citizens received compensation from Iraq for damages cause by missiles during the first Gulf War; the same principle guided the opinion of the International Court of Justice that Israel must compensate all Palestinians who have been harmed by the erection of the separation wall. The article emphasizes the great value of individual civil claims by Palestinians who have been injured by the Israeli occupation for accountability from the standpoint of Israeli society, since a society which does not bring human rights violators to trial and does not compensate the victims is a society where abuse of the weak is permissible. It is all the more important from the Palestinian standpoint. Today, this is the only avenue which allows for some justice to be done in individual cases. It also facilitates the exposure of the occupation's mechanisms of injustice. In most cases, the first and only time soldiers and officers of the Israeli military are forced to be truly accountable for their actions is when they are examined as witnesses in the court in the framework of civil claims.  

HaMoked is the only human rights organization which promotes civil claims by Palestinians against Israel as bearing vicarious responsibility and against other agents who cause damage who bear direct responsibility (police officers, soldiers, settlers) recently the Court awarded compensation for Plaintiffs represented by HaMoked in the case of an inmate who had been tortured and killed by his cellmates in an Israeli prison while the prison guards stood by, and in a civil claim filed on behalf a detainee who had suffered abuse and held in appalling conditions at the Ofer camp detention facility when it was first opened during Operation Defensive Shield. Additionally, for the first time since HaMoked began taking civil action, a compromise was reached with the Defense Ministry regarding a Palestinians who was released from prison to the Gaza Strip, despite residing in the West Bank. The claim focused on the administrative injustices committed against him and a substantial part of the sum agreed upon was in compensation for these injustices, despite the fact that the Defense Ministry neither admitted culpability nor assumed responsibility. Other claims now pending before the courts include a demand for compensation for settler violence, damage by police officers and soldiers in checkpoints and more. 

Adv. Yossi Wolfson, The Right to Compensation for the Violation of Human Rights

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