Palestinian tycoon shot by British forces as boy launches bid to redress colonial-era abuses
The world’s richest Palestinian, who was shot by British forces as a boy, has launched an attempt to win redress for alleged crimes committed during colonial rule.
Munib Al-Masri, 88, who was shot by British forces in 1944, earlier this year drafted a 300-page document on the alleged crimes and abuses committed by colonial forces in Palestine between 1917 and 1948.
“I was walking with a march and the soldier shot me in my leg, even now my leg hurts from the injury,” Al-Masri told The Times. “I (barely) survived death seven times, and it is a miracle that I’m still alive to file this lawsuit,” he added.
Al-Masri told the BBC earlier this year that British rule and the division of the Palestinian mandate in 1948 between Israel and the Arab territories under the Balfour Declaration affected him deeply in his adult life.
“I saw how people were harassed…We had no protection whatsoever and nobody to defend us,” he said.
Al-Masri also wants to collect 100,000 signatures for a petition demanding that Britain reviews the declaration, due to claims it was never ratified by parliament, The Times reported.
He wants at least an apology for the way the British government crushed protests during the mandate period, including the deaths of scores of villagers in a 1938 massacre in Al-Bassa and the killing of 11 people in Halhul.
Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer, and Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, are working with Al-Masri.
Emmerson told the BBC earlier this year that “shocking crimes committed by certain elements of the British mandatory forces” were carried out “systematically on the Palestinian population,” adding that even during the time the crimes were carried out, they would have been seen as breaches of international law.
The Ministry of Defence said it was aware of “historical allegations” and that any evidence would be “reviewed thoroughly.”