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Trapped under the rubble of houses demolished by the military in the Jenin refugee camp: the case of TA
3117/02 | documents: 1  |  Updates: 0 In early April 2002, large military forces invaded the refugee camp in the city of Jenin. During the campaign, concentrated in densely populated areas, the military leveled a substantial area of the refugee camp to the ground, using, among other means, bulldozers and helicopter missiles. Under military procedure, at least 30 minutes before bulldozers start operating in a built-up area, local residents must be told evacuate their homes, using a public address system. The procedure was followed, but nonetheless, people were trapped alive in the rubble, many of them civilians with no involvement in combat.

On April 12, 2002, TA alerted HaMoked that the home of his relatives in the Jenin refugee camp had been demolished by the military five days earlier. The fate of his aunt and his grandmother, who were in the house when it was demolished, was unknown.  Yet on the day before his call, women were heard crying for help from the rubble. HaMoked urgently appealed to the military to help rescue the women trapped under the rubble. However, an officer from the District Coordination Office arrived at the scene only on the next day. He had neither training nor expertise and no professional equipment for clearing rubble. The officer informed HaMoked that the site of the house was completely leveled, and was now a large heap of rubble.  HaMoked demanded the military dispatch a trained search and rescue team, but only after Member of Knesset, Yossi Sarid, intervened, did the military reply that a rescue team would enter any area where "signs of life are presumed", subject to the guaranteed safety of the team. The military added it would not initiate any search for survivors.  

That same day, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the military to activate the home front command rescue team, to search, find and rescue anyone buried in the ruins of the Jenin refugee camp. The petition was dismissed following the state's response that the rescue team was already in operation on the camp site. In their ruling, the justices stressed that "morality and law together justify that the rescue team be sent to the area.

TA's relatives were no longer alive when found.


HCJ 3117/02 Center for the Defence of the Individual v. The Minister of Defence Judgment
Judgment  |  3117/02  |  14.4.2002
Judgment in HaMoked's petition to activate the special rescue unit of the Home Front Command to search, trace and rescue persons buried under the rubble in the Jenin refugee camp. The court rejected the petition, because the state had notified that the rescue unit had entered the refugee camp that day and was working to trace trapped persons. Nonetheless, the justices emphasized that "law and m...
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