Today, 10 June 2008, the Knesset will vote on the first reading of the Civil Wrongs (Liability of State) Law (Amendment No. 8) – 2008. The bill, promoted by Justice Minister Freedman is aimed at denying residents of the Territories the possibility to file compensation claims against the State even when the damage was incurred irrespective of wartime actions: human rights organizations, including HaMoked, caution that the bill is seeking to revive amendment no. 7 which was unanimously struck down by a panel of nine Supreme Court Justices after it was found to be unconstitutional המוקד להגנת הפרט
10.06.2008
Today, 10 June 2008, the Knesset will vote on the first reading of the Civil Wrongs (Liability of State) Law (Amendment No. 8) – 2008. The bill, promoted by Justice Minister Freedman is aimed at denying residents of the Territories the possibility to file compensation claims against the State even when the damage was incurred irrespective of wartime actions: human rights organizations, including HaMoked, caution that the bill is seeking to revive amendment no. 7 which was unanimously struck down by a panel of nine Supreme Court Justices after it was found to be unconstitutional
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The purpose of Amendment No. 8 is clear: to reverse the Court’s ruling in HCJ 8276/05. It is a reprehensible attempt to lend the branches of the executive authority and the security forces supra-statutory status, and to exempt them from judicial review of human rights violations and from responsibility for their actions. The Court has already outlined the gravity of the attempt to exempt the State from tort claims. In December 2006, a panel of nine Supreme Court Justices unanimously ruled that a similar amendment, designed to exempt the State from liability for harm – of any kind – caused to residents of the Territories by security forces. In so ruling, the Justices accepted the petition filed by nine Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations. The HCJ Justices ruled that the law contravenes Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and infringes the rights to life, dignity, property and liberty. 

The proposed law, intended to apply retroactively to injuries caused since 2000, establishes that in cases of wrongful harm, caused in circumstances other than an act of war, the victims – orphans, widows, the disabled, or those who remain destitute after their property was destroyed – will remain with no legal remedy, and without anyone being accountable for illegal actions. In a position paper submitted by HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, the organizations strongly criticize the bill and stress that its harmful effect exceeds that of the law struck down by the HCJ. The bill is contrary not only to the principles of reasonableness and justice, but also to the fundamental principles of Israeli and international law. 

The organizations further caution that with no possibility to file claims opportunities to examine cases of abuse, theft and damage to property caused by soldiers or other members of the security forces will diminish. Passing the bill threatens to place Israel in the list of outcast countries whose legal systems do not protect human rights. The result could be a barrage of claims filed abroad against soldiers and officers of the Israeli military. 

It must be noted that the bill may harm Israeli citizens: if passed, the law will allow the Defense Minister to proclaim areas inside Israel "conflict zones" and thus prevent residents therein who have been injured by actions of the security forces from filing claims against them. 

As it contravenes fundamental principles of Israeli and international law, and because of its drafters' attempt to circumvent the decision of the HCJ and even extend the harm HaMoked calls for the outright rejection of the bill. 

To view the organization's position paper dated 7 September 2007 

To view the Memorandum of the Civil Torts Law (Liability of the State) (Amendment No.8),5767-2007  (in Hebrew)

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