Israel is placing barriers to legal proceedings for Palestinians in Gaza seeking compensation for lost relatives from an Israeli military offensive three years ago, causing dozens to place their cases on hold.
Israeli policies impose expensive court fees into the tens of thousands of dollars that most Gazans can’t afford. Other restrictions on travel prevent Gazans from entering Israel to testify, see medical professionals or meet with their lawyers.
Israel claims the legal fees prevent frivolous lawsuits, but many legitimate suits will be dropped if they continue to face such steep costs. Some Palestinians say the imposed expenses are meant to insulate Israeli soldiers from the law.
Gaza resident Mohammed Abdel-Dayim is currently pursuing one such lawsuit. He is suing Israel over the deaths of four relatives during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 in which up to 1,400 Palestinians were killed, 5,000 injured, and billions of dollars of infrastructure damage and numerous incidents of IDF attacks on civilian facilities.
Abdel-Dayim’s son “was a volunteer medic who died when Israeli tank fire struck the ambulance he was driving” and his “three nephews were killed the next day when Israeli shelling struck a mourning tent where the family was grieving,” according to the Associated Press. An Israeli court asked Abdel-Dayim to pay $22,000 in court fees to even continue with the case. But his annual income is $6,000.
Some cases, fortunately, have been successful. The Israeli Justice Ministry says that various Palestinians were paid a total of $6 million in damages from the state and in August, Israel’s Defense Minister settled a case of court, paying about $137,000 to the family of a mother and daughter who were shot dead while waving white flags.
But many others are finding the Israeli-imposed barriers to justice insurmountable. “The victim must pay for justice,” said Abdel-Dayim. “Israel should be ashamed.”