The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a decision by the Tel Aviv District Court allowing Mustafa Dirani, who held captive navigator Ron Arad in
the past, to continue to pursue his lawsuit against the state.
His attorney commended the decision, saying it upholds Israeli values and prevents the states from being "like its enemies".
Justices Ayala Procaccia and Salim Joubran rejected the state's appeal against the proceedings, while Justice Hanan Meltzer voted in favor of accepting the appeal.
Dirani, a Hezbollah operative, was captured by Israel in 1994 and held until a swap deal in 2004. Before his release he filed a claim for NIS 6 million ($1.75 million), claiming he was raped by one of his Israeli interrogators.
When Dirani returned to Lebanon he announced that he would continue to work for Hezbollah, prompting the state to file an appeal against his suit, claiming that the court was debating a terrorist's claim.
But Justice Procaccia explained in her decision that "even an enemy can appeal to the Israeli justice system, and present claims on the state's interference with his basic rights while in Israel and under the supervision of the government".
She added, "There is no danger here to the power of the state, but rather evidence of its ethical and moral prowess, seeing as a state's strength is not measured only in the power of its arms and military, but also in the upholding of the rule of law."
But Justice Meltzer holds the opposite opinion. He explained that once Dirani announced his return to terrorism and submitted to an enemy state's sovereignty, he forfeited his right to make claims against Israel.
"Sometimes it is right for us to learn from other justice systems based on the wisdom and experience of democratic and cultured countries," he said.
Dirani's attorney, Zvi Rish, says the Supreme Court's decision is in keeping with Israel's values. "Dirani is not the issue, the state is," said Rish, who is representing Dirani for free as a court-appointed attorney.
"I wouldn't want us to be like the enemy," Rish told Ynet. "I don't want people to be raped in my country, not even terrorists."
He also refuted claims that Dirani is a terrorist responsible for the deaths of Israelis. "Who did he kill? Why wasn't he tried? They should have filed an indictment against him if they thought he was a terrorist and describe what he had done, and then I wouldn't represent him," Rish said.
On the other side of the debate on Dirani was MK Yariv Levin (Likud), who said the court's decision was "a prize for terrorists".
"It is proof of the urgent need for a change in the justice nomination system, to a system that can prevent the nomination of judges who cannot distinguish between good and evil," he said.