Palestinian Center for Human Rights: Penalizing the Victim

This Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights details certain legal, financial and procedural obstacles that the Israeli system imposes on victims from the Gaza Strip who claim reparation before Israeli civil courts. Obstacles include a very short statute of limitations, power of attorney requirements, high costs of court guarantees, difficult access to court and the application of amendment n. 8 to the Israeli Civil Tort Law, which exempts Israel of any liability arising from damages caused during a “combat action”.

To illustrate these issues, the report focuses on the steps taken by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in seeking reparations on behalf of the victims of ‘Operation Cast Lead’ of 2008. PCHR filed 1,046 civil complaints with the Compensation Officer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Because the Israeli authorities did not act upon these applications, between June 2010 and January 2011, PCHR filed 100 civil cases before Israeli courts, seeking compensation for 620 victims. Of the 223 civil cases filed by PCHR to date 133 have been dismissed for failing to meet one of the administrative hurdles mentioned above. Only 13 cases have been successful, 3 of which related to ‘Operation Cast Lead’.

The Report concludes that Israel is unwilling to fulfill its legal obligations towards the victims of its military operations. According to PCHR, the Israeli judicial system is being used to provide an illusion of justice, while systematically denying Palestinian civilians their right to an effective remedy.