The Jerusalem District Court cleared for publication an unprecedented ruling stating that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for the unlawful detention and torture of collaborators with Israel since the 1990s.
In the precedent-setting ruling of Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori which covers over two thousand pages, the Judge details the legal considerations that led him to his decision, as well as the torture that collaborators have experienced in the cellars of the Palestinian Authority over the years.
In the ruling, Drori states that "when the PA arrests a suspect - in its opinion - for cooperation with Israel, this means that the arrest is on security grounds that are not within the authority of the PA, but only within Israel's authority under the Interim Agreement. As a result, the arrest is illegal. "
"The arrest of the PA on grounds that are not within its jurisdiction, especially when it comes to security grounds, has security implications in itself, since the arrest is intended, from the point of view of the Authority, to direct the behavior of its residents against the State of Israel and in support of terrorist activities. Therefore, a civil suit filed by any of the residents of the PA on grounds of this arrest - including the plaintiffs in the cases before me - also carries security implications,” the Judge states.
Regarding the torture experienced by the plaintiffs, the Judge said, "I cannot refrain from saying the following: a continuous examination of all the evidence materials, including the detailed affidavits of the Plaintiffs, and the presence of them in the memory of those witnesses who testified about the torture, when some of them presented me during their testimonies damaged organs - none of this is easy. Indeed, the court has been exposed in many cases to difficult situations.”
"In this case, however, we are dealing with a sequence of dozens of plaintiffs, attesting, individually, to events, with the detailed picture written in the individual chapters. After this detailed writing, it is inevitable to say that this is an accumulation of evidence, which shows that the PA - with all its branches and mechanisms detailed in the individual chapters - used severe violence, including harsh torture, against the Plaintiffs,” the Judge said.
Deliberations, which have been going on for more than a decade before the court, gave a picture of harsh torture over the years. “Most of the plaintiffs describe similar descriptions of torture (torture by the “Shabaah” method - hanging the prisoner in different ways, exposure to freezing cold or heat, preventing drinking or forced drinking from the toilet, beatings, forced sitting on a broken and sharp bottle). It’s hard to assume that similar torture methods did not stem from a single method, which was acceptable at the time in jails,” the Judge wrote.
Attorneys Barak Kedem and Aryeh Arbus of the Rom-Arbus-Kedem-Tzur office representing the Plaintiffs are expected to conduct discussions in the court over the next few months on the individual case of each of the Plaintiffs, during which the amount of compensation that the Authority is to compensate will be determined. The compensation money will reach millions of shekels per plaintiff.
Kedem said following the ruling: "After 14 years in which the case was conducted in the court, and following an in-depth examination of the Honorable Justice Drori, which was spread over an 1,800-page ruling, the court enacted justice and placed responsibility on the Palestinian Authority in determining that the PA jailed and tortured 52 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. They were tortured in all sorts of nightmarish ways, from smashing bones and taking out fingernails to being dragged by a traveling vehicle, and ending with their murder in sadistic ways that cannot be written on paper."
Kedem added that "the State of Israel has a deep moral obligation to those who were tortured and murdered because of the suspicion that they helped prevent terrorism from its streets. The court in its important decision has taken the first step towards the fulfillment of a supreme moral duty.”
Attorney Nati Rom stated, “I am proud that our firm was able to part of this important case and am pleased with the ruling. I hope that we will be able obtain significant compensation for the victims and that this will send a clear message that torture like this has no place in the 21st century.”