Palestinian protester 520.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Jerusalem District Court has rejected a civil damages claim in a wrongful
death case against the state for the killing of Ekel Saror during clashes over
the West Bank security barrier near Ni’lin between Palestinian protesters and
the IDF in 2009, it was announced on Tuesday.
The actual decision against
the six plaintiffs’ claim was rendered on Monday.
The court fully adopted
the state’s version of events and fined the plaintiffs NIS 55,000 in legal fees
It accepted the argument that the soldier who shot Saror was
acting in self-defense and reasonably believed that his life was in danger at the
Also, the court said that since the soldier believed his life was
in danger, the “combat activities” exception deemed the state exempt from any
liability even if there had been negligence.
The combat activities
exception states that if a civilian or civilian property is unintentionally hurt
or damaged by the state in a war zone – even if there is not an full-scale war
going on at that time, but the area is in a general condition of war – the state
gets a free pass and cannot be sued for civil damages.
The 2009 clashes
do not technically constitute state of war, as the IDF was merely containing
protests, even if the protests at some point became violent. However, the IDF’s
official position is that there is still an armed conflict between Israel and
adversaries in the West Bank.
That position – together with the soldiers’
belief that their lives were in danger once the protests became violent – was
enough for the court to decide that the combat activities exception applied even
during a protest.
Whereas the plaintiffs had complained that Saror was
shot for no reason, the state said that a force of only three soldiers was
temporarily left behind to cover the withdrawal of a larger force, and that this
force was attacked with violent rock-throwing that posed a mortal threat to the
The court also accused some of the plaintiffs’ witnesses of
blatantly lying in their testimony.
The court said that it viewed the
soldiers’ testimony as demonstrating that they had felt authentic fear for their
In addition, the court said that the soldiers’ fear was reasonable
as the rocks being thrown were large and that even after the soldiers fired
warning shots towards the legs of a protester, several others continued to move