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Israel: towards a new legislation denying compensation to Palestinians

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is extremely concerned by the forthcoming adoption by the Knesset of an amendment to the Civil Wrongs Regulations that would prevent any Palestinian injured by or suffering any damage from the Israeli military forces from claiming compensation.

The FIDH, in support of its member organizations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza), already urged the Chairman of the Knesset Law Committee Knesset to act in order to prevent the adoption of Amendment n°5 to the Civil Wrongs Regulations, while the text was being examined by the Committee.

According to the latest information received from Jerusalem today, Amendment N°5 should be voted by the Law Committee on Monday, July 25th, 2005, and then brought to the Knesset plenary session on wednesday, July 27th .

The FIDH recalls that this amendment, if passed, will severely hinder Palestinians' ability to obtain a remedy for violations of their basic human rights.

It is particularly egregious to deny access to the courts based on the identity of the victim rather than the circumstances of the injury. Thus, a Palestinian injured by military forces will have no possibility to receive compensation, whereas an Israeli resident of the Occupied Territories injured in similar circumstances will have full access to the courts. Such blatant discrimination is an affront to basic principles of equality and human dignity.

The implication of this amendment is that Palestinians may be harmed without redress. Such a law would be stain on the Israeli legal system and would furthermore amount to a violation of international humanitarian law, especially article 3 of The Hague Regulations of 1907 providing that « a belligerent party which violates the provisions of the said Regulations shall, if the case demand, be liable to pay compensation. It shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces ».

Furthermore, such a law would amount to a violation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ensuring that any person whose rights or freedoms recognized in the Covenant are violated shall have an effective remedy.

The FIDH recalls that the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its concluding observations on Israel (CCPR/CO/78/ISR) established that the provisions of the Covenant apply to the benefit of the population of the Occupied Territories, for all conduct by the State party's authorities or agents in those te rritories that affect the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the Covenant and fall within the ambit of State responsibility of Israel under the principles of public international law.

The FIDH recalls that determination as to who is entitled to compensation for acts of the Israeli military forces must be left to the courts.