Country Listing

Israel Table of Contents



A three-tiered court system of magistrate courts, district courts, and Supreme Court applied Israeli law to all persons within Israel's borders. Municipal courts, with a more limited sentencing power than magistrate courts, enforced municipal ordinances and bylaws. Juvenile matters were heard by juvenile court judges assigned to magistrate and district courts. The judiciary was independent and the right to a hearing by an impartial tribunal, with representation by counsel, was guaranteed by law. All trials were open, with the exception of security cases.

A separate Palestinian court system operated in the occupied territories, supplemented by military courts that tried security cases. A mixture of military regulations and laws dating back to the Ottoman and the Mandate periods were applied. Israeli citizens and foreign visitors were not subject to the local courts of the occupied territories. The quality of judicial standards in the military courts and the absence of any appeal system from the verdicts of Israeli military judges were widely criticized in Israel and abroad. Some questionable practices regarding the treatment of Palestinians in such courts are mentioned in the country reports on human rights compiled by the United States Department of State.

Data as of December 1988