Court delays ruling on paralysed girl

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The Independent Online

Maria Amin, a six-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza who was paralysed from the neck down in an Israeli missile attack, was left in legal limbo yesterday after Israel's Supreme Court put off a decision on her long-term future.

Maria, who controls her wheelchair with a joystick that she operates with her chin, and her father, Hamdi, are fighting a Defence Ministry decision that she should be transferred from the Israeli Alyn rehabilitation centre in Jerusalem to the less comprehensively equipped Abu Raya centre in Ramallah.

Maria's mother, grandmother and older brother were killed in their car as it drove past the Islamic Jihad militant targeted in the attack in May 2006.

Under Israeli law, the state does not have to compensate innocent Palestinian victims of military attacks but the Defence Ministry agreed in Maria's case – which received widespread publicity in Israel – to pay for her treatment at the Alyn and to allow her father and four-year-old brother to stay with her in the hospital where she has been for more than two years.

The court decided to delay any decision until December when an injunction preventing her transfer to the West Bank expires. The family is also seeking permanent residency, which would allow Mr Amin to work and for three of them to live near the hospital.

Maria's Israeli lawyer, Adi Lustigman, said: "There are things we can do to make things better and this is to take care of her for all of her life because she cannot survive outside Israel."

Mr Amin said he believed the court did not want to set a precedent that would encourage other Palestinians hurt in Israeli attacks to seek long-term treatment in Israel. One judge, Edmond Levy, said: "She has a roof over her head and we will keep following this matter."

*Israeli forces raided a popular shopping mall in the centre of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, ordering its closure for two years over its owner's alleged links to Hamas. Shoppers defied the order by flocking to the mall.