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Arab families want Israeli compensation

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  • ummyakoub
    Arab families want Israeli compensation Fighter jets shot down airliner 30 years ago http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/02Sep2003_news27.html Bangkok Post Sept 2,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2003
      Arab families want Israeli compensation

      Fighter jets shot down airliner 30 years ago


      Bangkok Post Sept 2, 203

      Arab families who lost relatives when Israeli war planes shot down a
      commercial aircraft that had wandered over Israeli-held territory say
      they want to take Israel to court _ three decades after the attack.

      The families say they have been inspired by an emerging global
      determination not to let attacks on civilians, even those long in the
      past, go unpunished. But lawyers say the 28 Egyptian families and two
      from Libya who want to sue, face significant hurdles.

      Mohamed Sherif, whose mother Salwa Hegazy was among the victims, says
      even raising money for what is likely to be a protracted and complex
      legal battle is beyond the families.

      ``We are looking for an international human rights organisation that
      would agree to file the suit on our behalf and take part of the
      compensation that we would get,'' said Mr Sherif, whose mother was a
      well-known Egyptian television news anchor. ``It is about time to
      talk. ... My mother did not die in her bed but she was assassinated,
      burned and deformed in a plane.''

      Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 was heading from Tripoli to Cairo on
      Feb 21, 1973, when bad weather forced the pilot off course over
      Egypt's Sinai peninsula. The Sinai was then occupied by Israel _
      having been captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war _ and two Israeli
      jet fighters intercepted the plane.

      When the Libyan pilot refused orders to land, the Israelis opened
      fire and the plane crashed in flames in the desert, killing 106
      people. Passengers included Egyptians, Libyans, French and Germans.

      Some seven months later, Egypt and Syria went to war against Israel
      to retrieve occupied Arab land. Israel turned back the Arab attack,
      but the war set the stage for Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel,
      the first such Arab-Israeli pact, which returned the Sinai peninsula
      to Egypt.

      An official in the legal department of Israel's Foreign Ministry,
      speaking on condition of anonymity, said talk of a suit now is
      ``politically motivated''.

      He said his country offered families of each victim US$30,000 in
      compensation three decades ago, but many families refused the money
      because they did not want to recognise Israel.

      The Jewish state felt its pilots had acted ``100% right in the
      incident. But because of humanitarian reasons ... Israel thought it
      was appropriate to offer financial assistance,'' the official said.

      However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said that Israel had
      never offered compensation. Mr Sherif, the son of the plane attack
      victim, also said Israel never tried to contact the families.
      Instead, he said, each family received about 1,800 Egyptian pounds
      (105,000 baht) in compensation from the Libyan airline.

      Tense Arab-Israeli relations have spilled into the international
      legal arena before _ for example when Palestinians tried to bring
      Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to trial in Belgium under a law
      that allowed Belgian courts to hear cases of war crimes committed
      anywhere in the world. The Palestinians wanted Mr Sharon tried for
      the massacre of hundreds of refugees by Christian militia allies of
      Israel in two camps in Beirut in 1982. In February, the Belgian
      Supreme Court rejected such a trial, saying Mr Sharon had diplomatic

      The Belgian parliament has since restricted the scope of the
      country's war crimes law. Yehia el-Shimi, a lawyer for relatives of
      the Libyan plane victims, is looking for a country in which to file
      suit, acknowledging ``the situation has become more difficult after
      Belgium changed its war crime laws''.

      Mr el-Shimi said Egyptian courts could rule on the case because the
      plane was brought down on Egyptian territory, albeit then occupied,
      but it would be difficult to implement the ruling because of a lack
      of appropriate legal agreements between Egypt and Israel _ and
      presumably their still cool relations.

      Curtis Doebbler, a Washington human rights lawyer who represents
      terror suspects held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, said the
      families may need powerful allies.

      The Lockerbie airline bombing case came to trial, he said, ``not
      because citizens brought the case, but because the American and
      British governments pushed very hard''.



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