'Israelis with names on assassins’ passports not protected'

Analysis: Israeli law protects citizens from privacy violations, but not necessarily that of the seven Israelis whose names appeared on passports allegedly used by the team that assassinated Mabhouh.

February 18, 2010 04:52
2 minute read.


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The law in Israel protects its citizens from violations of their privacy, but not necessarily that of the seven Israelis whose names and other details appeared on passports allegedly used by the team that assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

The Israelis, whose identities were temporarily borrowed by the assassins, now feel threatened by Hamas after being implicated in things they did not do.

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There is nothing these innocent bystanders to the terrorist war in the Middle East can do about the theft of their identities, according to Haifa University criminal law professor Emmanuel Gross.

The law that protects Israelis from the invasion of their privacy is the 1981 Privacy Protection Law which specifies 11 separate acts which are designated as criminal violations.

Although none of the acts listed in the law relate directly to the use of the Israelis’ names without their permission, some of them appear to be a close fit.

According to the law, “No one may violate the privacy of another person without his permission.” The definitions of privacy include the use of a person’s name, nickname, photo or voice for profit and the publication of something which was obtained by violating a person’s privacy.

Gross added that in the 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, the protection of privacy was upgraded to a constitutional right. The law guarantees that “there shall be no violation of the property of a person” and “there shall be no violation of the confidentiality of conversation, or of the writings or records of a person.”

Gross said that violations of privacy are both criminal and civil wrongs. The victim may sue the suspect and the state may prosecute him.

But in the case of the Mabhouh assassination, who exactly are the victims to sue when they do not know and cannot prove who violated their privacy? Even if the authorities in Dubai come to the conclusion that the Mossad was behind the assassination, Israel is extremely unlikely to admit responsibility, even if the victims decided to sue on the basis of the Dubai investigation.

And obviously, the state will not indict itself.

According to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, none of the rights guaranteed in the law may be violated “except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose and to an extent no greater than required.” Gross told The Jerusalem Post it was unlikely that if the matter ever came to court, it would find that these criteria justify the violation of the rights of the seven Israelis who were the indirect victims of the assassination.

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