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Damage caused during Operation Cast Lead Photo: AP
Damage caused during Operation Cast Lead Photo: AP
 
 

Gazans prepare lawsuits against IDF

Defense Ministry, Tel Aviv Prosecution receive 1,500 notices of future civil lawsuits against IDF over damages caused to Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead. Legal experts say Israel to argue it was fighting on foreign territory, over which it has no legal responsibilities

Tova Tzimuki
Published: 10.28.09, 10:29 / Israel News

The residents of Gaza are not waiting on the Goldstone Report to take action. The Defense Ministry and the Tel Aviv Prosecution have reportedly received some 1,500 notices of future civil lawsuits against the IDF over damage caused during Operation Cast Lead.

 

The claims, which amount to tens of millions of dollars, are over physical damage, damage to property and loss of earning capacity.

 

Since the border with Gaza is closed, lawyers from Israel and abroad have recently notified the Defense Ministry and the Prosecution of their plans to file lawsuits with the Israeli courts.

 

The future lawsuits are in part based on claims filed after the first and second intifadas, when Israel was forced to pay hundreds of millions of shekels in damages to residents of the Palestinian territories that suffered from clashes with the IDF.

 

A law legislated by the State and meant to minimize compensation claims was annulled by the High Court of Justice three years ago.

 

The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is currently working on formulating a similar law. The new law will still allow for lawsuits to be filed against the state for damage caused by the IDF to civilians and their property, but will place a number of restraints and limitations on the claims, and will only allow claims in rare cases and on a humanitarian basis.

 

"The current situation, in which the State of Israel pays hundreds of millions of shekels to victims of war activity, must change," the committee's Chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) said on Tuesday.

 

"We should not be more righteous than the rest of the world and be the only ones that allow terrorists to sue us in our courts for damages that stem from warfare or anti-terror activity."

 

Meanwhile, in the absence of a law, Palestinians will be able to file lawsuits against the state. A senior legal source on Tuesday said that the Palestinians were quick to give notice of their plans to file lawsuits over Operation Cast Lead in order to avoid the one-year statute of limitations that applies in such cases.

 

The source said Israel will argue that since the Disengagement, Israel is no longer responsible for Gaza, meaning the cases cannot be tried based on precedents in the West Bank.

 

Israel will also cite that international law recognizes the right not to pay compensation for damages caused during warfare. Legal expert Advocate Yaron Pastinger, believes that Israel will argue that Israel was fighting on foreign territory that it has no legal responsibility for.

 

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