AP Exclusive: Palestinians face steep court fees
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Dozens of Palestinians who lost relatives in an Israeli military offensive in Gaza three years ago have been forced to put their compensation claims on hold, saying Israel has placed near-impossible barriers to proceeding with their cases.
Israeli restrictions prevent Gazans from entering Israel to testify, undergo medical exams or meet with their lawyers. But the biggest obstacle, the victims say, are steep court fees that can reach tens of thousands of dollars.
"The victim must pay for justice," said Gaza resident Mohammed Abdel-Dayim, whose son and three nephews were killed during a military assault. "Israel should be ashamed."
Israel says the fees prevent frivolous lawsuits. They say they are imposed on many foreigners — not just Palestinians — because they don't have local assets that the state could seize to cover legal fees and other court costs.
But Palestinians say the costs are part of a strategy to protect Israeli soldiers. If the fees aren't reduced, lawyers representing Palestinians say they will have to drop most cases.
Abdel-Dayim is suing Israel over the deaths of four relatives: His son was a volunteer medic who died when Israeli tank fire struck the ambulance he was driving. Three nephews were killed the next day when Israeli shelling struck a mourning tent where the family was grieving.
An Israeli court asked Abdel-Dayim to post $22,000 in court fees, or just over $5,000 per victim. His annual income is under $6,000.
About 1,000 Gazans have prepared cases seeking compensation, mostly alleging wrongful deaths during Israel's offensive in the territory, according to their lawyers....READ MORE
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