High court rules state must pay $10 mil. to finders of Majdi Halabi's body

Ibrahim and Hadar Kozli, who found the body of the missing soldier during in the Carmel Forests, will receive the monetary prize offered - after their request was rejected in 2016.

By AVISHAI GRINZAIG/MAARIV
June 3, 2019 20:33
2 minute read.
Druse mourn at funeral of Majdi Halabi

Druse mourn at funeral of Majdi Halabi . (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the state on Monday to pay $10 million to Ibrahim and Khader Kozli, the finders of the body of the missing soldier Majdi Halabi, after the state decided not to pay the sum because the two did not search for the body but found it by chance, a position that also received support in the Haifa District Court.

The ruling, which was determined by a two-to-one majority, states that even though it took a long time between publication of the advertisement and the discovery of the body, it can not be said that the validity of the text has expired, even if the organization that published it has already been closed. The judges also ruled that "the prize offer should also be applied to any random finding, despite the interpretive difficulty and despite the existence of conflicting indications."

Judge Neil Hendel wrote that "the special duty that the state must act on is not only principled, but also practical. Let's say the state, the police or the municipality offer a prize and then refuse to pay it without justification after someone is supposed to win a prize. That would harm their credibility in offering a prize in the future, when the public interest may be even more pressing."

Attorneys Rachel Ben-Ari, Yuval Adler, Mohammed Lutfi and Adi Arman of Ben-Ari-Fish-Saban & Co., representing the brothers Kozli, said in response to the decision: "We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling, believing it is worthy, correct and just."

In 2016, the Haifa District Court rejected the suit filed by the Kozli family, who found the body of the missing soldier, Majdi Halabi. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs petitioned for a $10 million financial prize published by the Association for Freedom Born. Although the association was closed a few months ago, the funding for the money was offered by the state.

In May 24, 2005, the late Majdi Halabi, who was on vacation, disappeared. As of 2007, Freedom Born Association published in the media and on billboards a $10 million prize for reliable information that will lead to the deceased's body. The "Born to Freedom" association, which was established at the initiative of the Arad family in the hope that the prize offer will assist in finding captive navigator Ron Arad, ceased its operations in January 2012.

About a year later, during a wood-cutting activity in the Carmel Forest, the Kozli family encountered the remains of the deceased soldier at random. The Kozli family demanded that the award be received from the State of Israel - the Ministry of Defense. Upon being rejected, the two filed a suit requesting to be paid NIS 40 millions. After the plaintiffs' request to exempt them from paying a fee was dismissed and their first claim was canceled, another claim was filed for the prize.

After the partial administration of the lawsuit, the court accepted the state's claims, rejecting the suit and Justice Avraham Elyakim ruled that "a legal analysis of the facts that are not in dispute leads to the rejection of the claim, but there remains a bitter taste. The plaintiffs finally found the deceased's body and solved the mystery of his disappearance. A tragic and sad solution to his family, a solution that saved many resources that the defendant would continue to invest in an attempt to find him."


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