A group of Arabs who were tortured by the Palestinian Authority have learned that human rights groups are only interested in cases that harm Israel’s reputation.
By: Yoni Ozery, Institute of Zionist Strategies
Fifty-two Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, victims of torture at the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA), have recently won a lawsuit filed against the PA. The next stage – that of determining damages – has subsequently encountered difficulties due to the need for relevant medical specialists. Their lawyer approached a number of human rights organizations only to be met with the response: “Assistance? Only for someone suing Israel.”
Last June, the Jerusalem District Court issued a precedential ruling according to which the PA is responsible for the physical and emotional injury caused to no less than 52 plaintiffs – Israeli and Palestinian Arabs suspected by the PA of collaboration with Israel – and charged the PA with their compensation. The victims represented in the trial have subsequently encountered difficulty in determining the level of compensation, being unable to locate and finance doctors willing to provide them with the professional assessment necessary for determining disability levels.
As a result, the law office representing the plaintiffs, Rom-Arbus-Kedem-Zur, approached several human rights organizations requesting assistance in finding specialists in a range of medical fields. The only response forthcoming to their appeal came from the “Blue and White” Human Rights Movement of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, who willingly answered the call.
As mentioned, the court verdict published this July, reveals an in-depth account of each of the plaintiffs and his circumstances. The resulting picture is one of widespread detentions throughout Judea and Samaria of those suspected of collaborating with Israel. The vicious torture described by the plaintiffs included beatings with metal wires and rubber pipes, cigarette burns, being hung for hours, and sleep- and food-deprivation. As a result, the plaintiffs sustained severe damage to both their physical and mental health.
“An Israeli court determined that the responsibility for the plaintiffs’ injures lies with the Palestinian Authority on which the court imposed obligation for paying damages”, said their lawyer Adv. Barak Kedem, during an interview with 360. He also explained that medical specialists were now required to evaluate the victim’s disabilities and thereby enable the court to set damages.
Kedem revealed that due to the complexity of the sustained injuries, the cost of each victim’s examination may reach thousands of shekels, however no finance is forthcoming for this cause. “These are people who are suffering from a number of parallel disabilities – physical disability, psychiatric, urological and others. Some are suffering from five or more disabilities and are therefore in need of experts to determine their overall disability profile.”
Assistance? Only for Palestinians Who Sue Israel
The lawyers consequently turned to a range of human rights organizations in a plea for assistance, a plea that was, as mentioned previously, generally either refused or simply ignored. “We need doctors to volunteer to examine the plaintiffs and also financial assistance to pay for their expenses”, Kedem stresses. “Thus far we have only received a response from the ‘Blue and White’ Human Rights Movement, from the ‘Honenu’ organization and from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. The remaining organizations refused to help, claiming that they only assist Palestinians who sue the State of Israel.”
Nave Dromi, director of the Institute for Zionist Strategies’ “Blue and White” Human Rights Movement, told 360 that the movement decided to assist the victims of the PA torture and attempted to interest specialist physicians in their case, only to face similar difficulties.
“We are a national-Zionist human rights organization which strives to show that it’s possible to be a human rights organization and love Israel,” Dromi explains.
“We already have doctors who cooperate and help us, but due to the large number of claims and cases, we tried to approach others with a request for assistance and were surprised to discover it wasn’t forthcoming. We were told: ‘You are a right-wing organization’, ‘you are extreme right-wing’, and there were also those who hinted that it bothers them that helping us may hurt the Palestinian Authority. We couldn’t believe that politics was being involved in this story too.”
According to Dromi, “This is a noble cause and we just didn’t expect their unwillingness to help, so we decided to turn to the public.”
Dromi launched an internet campaign to raise funds and to call for assistance in recruiting specialist doctors to conduct the necessary medical examinations and to compose a summary to be submitted to the court.
“We regard it as our moral obligation to assist these people who risked themselves and their families for the sake of Israel’s security,” stresses Dromi. “All assistance and volunteering is of great benefit.”
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