An Israeli military court has ordered the state to compensate five Palestinians whose plant nurseries were destroyed by the army almost 20 years ago, reported Haaretz.
On 14-15 November 2000, Israeli occupation forces demolished the nurseries – located at a junction near the West Bank town of Qalqilya – on the basis that stones and Molotov cocktails had previously been "thrown from the area around them".
In 2002, the owners filed their first compensation claim, which was countered by the Israeli authorities on the grounds that the demolition was carried out as an act of war.
According to Haaretz, "the suit wound its way through the courts over the next 18 years, during which rulings on the nature of the action and the amount of compensation were overturned."
Eventually, the court ordered the state to pay the nursery owners three million shekels ($865,863) plus interest, "linkage to the cost of living index and lawyers' fees over the nurseries".
The judge, who levelled heavy criticism at the government lawyers over their conduct in the case, said that in future, "the Israeli plant nursery test" should be applied in all such cases.
Haaretz noted that the judge also suggested that if the nurseries had been Israeli-owned, the army would "have helped clear them out before the demolition".
The judge said he expected the army and occupation officials "to treat Palestinians, especially those who are innocent, as they would Israelis who incurred damage".
"I would expect that after they were forced to damage a business, they would act fairly in weighing the compensation due, and would not try to evade responsibility using creative legal arguments."
The owners' lawyer said in response: "The 'Israeli plant nursery test' is very importance. The court ruled that…if the state inflicts damage, it doesn't matter who incurred the damage, the standards for compensation are the same, Jew or non-Jew, Israeli or non-Israeli."