Supreme Court of Israel.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the PA must pay NIS 3 million in civil wrongful death damages to the family of a Bezeq mechanic murdered in 2003.
In the decision, the court explained that Amit Amos Mantin was murdered during the Second Intifada by a 15-and-a-half-year-old, who himself pointed the finger at the Palestinian Authority for brainwashing him into committing the murder at a PA-sponsored camp 10 days prior.
Mantin was a Bezeq mechanic sent to fix car accessories in Baka al-Gharbiya, east of Hadera.
He was shot five times while he was sitting in a car and died on the spot.
The panel of Justices Uzi Vogelman and Noam Sohlberg along with recently retired Justice Miriam Naor ruled that the PA does not benefit from sovereign immunity as a country might in similar situations.
Then-court president Naor reached the mandatory retirement age for judges of 70 on October 26, but can continue to sit on cases she started before then.
Further, the court rejected the PA’s request for immunity by virtue of the combat activities exception and the idea that the murder was part of a broader war between the two peoples.
Although the court does recognize the combat activities exception, which exempts a state from liability for civil damages negligently caused in a war zone, it said the killing here was a terrorist attack against a civilian and did not qualify for the immunity.
Next, the court rejected the PA’s attack on the minor’s confession to police, saying the court should have given greater weight to the minor’s rejection of his confession in court.
The court said this was against accepted principles for judging credibility, especially since in court the minor admitted that he did not remember the incident as well now as he had at the earlier date when he was questioned by police.
Finally, the court found there was a clear connection between the minor’s murderous actions and PA support for terrorism during his training, which meant it could be held liable.
The case could have implications for the Jerusalem District Court rulings in July against the PA by 51 Palestinians for torturing them, and the one in November against the PA for NIS 62m. for the murder of three Israelis on Route 443.
Now if either of those cases are appealed to the Supreme Court, the victims can likely employ the same arguments that the winning victims applied in this case.
The NIS 3m. in damages against the PA represented about 70% liability, while there were also civil damages assessed to Bezeq.