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1.5.2012

Palestinians whose building was damaged during a suspect apprehension operation will not be compensated: The court rules that the "pressure cooker protocol" was employed as part of a wartime action

On the night of June 10, 2002, the Israeli army went into Ramallah, looking to apprehend a Palestinian wanted by security forces. To force the man to turn himself in, the military used what is known as the "pressure cooker protocol", put in place after the "neighbor protocol" and the "early warning protocol" were outlawed. In the "pressure cooker protocol" the military uses escalating measures against the building the wanted person is in. The military first called on the man to come out of the building over a PA system. The soldiers then fired their guns, first aiming at the building walls, and then at the windows. The force then switched to a machine gun mounted on a tank, and finally fired a tank shell at the window (the procedure's final step, not used in this instance, is the demolition of the building with the wanted person inside). At the end of the incident, which lasted almost 24 hours, it became apparent that the wanted person had not been in the building at all. The building naturally sustained heavy damage.

On November 3, 2010, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court awarded the building owners more than 400,000 ILS in damages, in a civil claim they filed against the military.

The Jerusalem District Court accepted the State's appeal against the judgment, ruling that the purpose of the operation was to apprehend a wanted person, presumed armed, and, therefore, constituted a wartime action, contrary to the finding of the Magistrates Court.

The owners sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the District Court's ruling effectively meant that any attempt to apprehend a suspect who is presumed armed constitutes a "wartime action" regardless of whether the operation went as planned or ran into trouble. This precedential ruling closes the door on civil claims in cases involving suspect apprehension operations, and in so doing, contradicts past case law on "wartime actions", according to which every case should be examined on its merits.

On April 18, 2012, the Supreme Court denied the request for leave to appeal, ruling that the District Court had not ruled that all cases in which the "pressure cooker protocol" was implemented met the "wartime action" criteria, just the incident in question. As such, the Court found no cause to grant the applicants leave to appeal.
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