Israel Promotes Procedures Allowing It to Press Civil Suits Against Jewish Terrorists

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A woman holds a picture of murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir outside a court, in 2015.
A woman holds a picture of murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir outside a court, in 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

In first, the State Prosecutor's Office announced last week that it will be possible to sue Jewish Israeli citizens who have been convicted of terrorism for compensation. 

The state has occasionally sued Palestinian and Arab Israeli terrorists for damages incurred by their attacks, but such a suit has never been filed against a Jewish perpetrator. 

The prosecutor announced the new procedures at the High Court of Justice in response to a petition that was filed by human rights lawyer Etay Mack, demanding that the state sue the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the teenager torched to death by three Jews in 2014.

In their response, the state prosecutors said they had recently completed work on rules pertaining to this matter, led by an attorney with the State Prosecutor's office, Orit Kotev, who is responsible for civil lawsuits.

The purpose of civil lawsuits is to cover the costs of compensation the state has ordered to be paid to terror victims, as well as to serve as a threat of further punishment for terrorist acts. Among the criteria set for filing such suits is to ascertain the likelihood that a person who is sued would be able to pay the sum.

The amount charged would also depend upon whether the convict being charged for compensation is a minor or an adult and whether the suit follows a criminal proceeding.

Regional prosecutors have the authority to file such lawsuits, and they are subject to the approval of the deputy state prosecutor for civil affairs, and in exceptional cases, the state prosecutor himself would have the final say.

The state’s response, presented by attorney Udi Eitan from the department that handles High Court of Justice cases, suggests that the in the case of Abu Khdeir the state would not be suing the murderers since the victim's family has already sued them for 5.6 million shekels ($1.54 million). The decision on that case is still up to the Jerusalem prosecutors' office.

Abu Khdeir's murderer, Yosef Haim Ben-David, at the High Court in 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Tag Meir anti-racism group, which filed the suit along alongside the center for victims of racism, said in response to the report: “We welcome the state prosecutor’s response and hope that the right decision is made soon, one that is moral and Jewish, in the matter of the Abu Khdeir murderers. We’re pleased that the petition we filed will improve the decision-making process in similar cases.”

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