The High Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip could file lawsuits against Israel for damages incurred in Israel Defense Forces operations, if the operations in question did not take place as part of a clearly defined “war.”
A panel of nine Supreme Court justices headed by retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak agreed to nullify an amendment to the Civil Wrongs (Liability of the State) Law that was passed by the Knesset on July 27, 2005, granting the state broad immunity from lawsuits filed by civilians for damages suffered in the Palestinian uprising.
The court, however, ruled that citizens of enemy states and members of terrorist organizations would not be permitted to file for compensation from the state.
The petition was filed on September 1, 2005 by nine human rights organizations, which included Adalah, Hamoked, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Al-Haq, B'Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights.
The petitioners charged that the law violated international humanitarian law and Israel was responsible for the safety and well being of the civilian populations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
“Fighting against terrorism is not like fighting a war against a regular army. The terrorists deliberately operate from within the civilian population. They do not identify themselves as combatants so that finding them requires fighting in densely occupied civilian areas," Israel said.
The state argued that the law did not violate the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom and that it reflected common international practice.