HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah publish a position paper against the proposed Civil Wrongs (Liability of State) Law (Amendment No. 8) – 2008, which passed first reading in the Knesset. The proposed law is intended to prevent residents of the Territories from filing tort claims against the State even in cases in which damage was incurred irrespective of acts of war: The organizations caution that the proposed law is an attempt to revive the law unanimously struck down by nine justices of the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional. The proposed law, if adopted, is destined to be null and void and should be shelved already at this stage המוקד להגנת הפרט
07.07.2008
HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah publish a position paper against the proposed Civil Wrongs (Liability of State) Law (Amendment No. 8) – 2008, which passed first reading in the Knesset. The proposed law is intended to prevent residents of the Territories from filing tort claims against the State even in cases in which damage was incurred irrespective of acts of war: The organizations caution that the proposed law is an attempt to revive the law unanimously struck down by nine justices of the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional. The proposed law, if adopted, is destined to be null and void and should be shelved already at this stage
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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, 9 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.  

In the discussion in the Knesset Plenum, MK Zehava Galon said that "This is an attempt to humiliate the HCJ. It is a discriminatory proposal." MK Beilin said that it was "shameful for the Justice Minister of Israel to present such a bill before the Knesset. It will be a stain on our Law." MK Hanin said that the bill sends a "message of impunity and lawlessness, a message, which is transmitted both inside and out, that the soldiers of the State of Israel can cause harm and hurt innocents with no one bearing responsibility, no one paying the price and no one providing relief or remedy to those harmed." 

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 the organizations call for the outright rejection of the bill.

To view the organization's position paper from 7 July 2008 

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

To view the article The Right to Compensation for the Violation of Fundamental Rights by Adv. Yossi Wolfson

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