Israel - Judicial system





The law of Israel contains some features of Ottoman law, English common law, and other foreign law, but it is shaped largely by the provisions of the Knesset. Judges are appointed by the president on recommendation of independent committees. There are 29 magistrates' courts, which deal with most cases in the first instance, petty property claims, and lesser criminal charges. Five district courts, serving mainly as courts of appeal, have jurisdiction over all other actions except marriage and divorce cases, which are adjudicated, along with other personal and religious matters, in the religious courts of the Jewish (rabbinical), Muslim ( Shari'ah ), Druze, and Christian communities. Aside from its function as the court of last appeal, the supreme court also hears cases in the first instance brought by citizens against arbitrary government actions. The number of supreme court justices is determined by a resolution of the Knesset. Usually, twelve justices serve on the supreme court. There is no jury system. Capital punishment applies only for crimes of wartime treason or for collaboration with the Nazis, and has been employed only once in Israel's modern history, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, who was executed in 1962. In the administered territories, security cases are tried in military courts; verdicts may not be appealed, and the rules of habeas corpus do not apply. There are also labor relations and administrative courts.

There is no constitution, but a series of "basic laws" provide for fundamental rights. The judiciary is independent. The trials are fair and public. Legislation enacted in 1997 limits detention without charge to 24 hours. Defendants have the right to be presumed innocent and to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards.

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