Mechanic Sues Israel Rail for Damages From Lebanon War

Haim Nudelman says he and his co-workers were told to come to work, but were not given proper protection.

A 42-year-old train mechanic from the Haifa Bay suburb of Kiryat Ata is suing Israel Railways and the state for injuries sustained when a barrage of missiles fell in the Second Lebanon War on the maintainence shed where he was working.

Haim Nudelman argues in his suit that he and his co-workers - eight of whom were killed in the attack - were told to come to work, but were not given proper protection despite warnings of missile attacks, while the nearby Haifa Port and other industries were shut down.

Nudelman and some 12 other workers injured in the attack have been declared disabled as the result of a work accident, rather than because of a hostile action.

Attorney Israel Junger, who is representing Nudelman, said this is the first civil lawsuit to be filed following the Second Lebanon War.

"The railway workers agreed to be categorized as suffering from disability following a work accident, because the law prohibits people recognized as disabled due to hostile action from suing the state," he explained.

Junger said maximum compensation for an individual disabled in a hostile action was around NIS 6,000 a month, while payment for disability from a work accident is determined by the victim's pre-accident income.

When the missiles hit on July 16, 2006, at the beginning of the war, Nudelman and the other workers were on the tracks, about 100 meters from a shelter. He returned to work for six months after recovering from the attack, but was unable to remain on the job.

"It kept coming back to haunt me," he told Haaretz. "Today I work somewhere else, an hour and a half from home, just not to go back there."

Israel Railways said it had not yet seen the suit and would respond in court when it did.

Junger says Nudelman's 12 co-workers are in the process of filing similar civil suits.