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