Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Israel court lets soldiers walk free after killing 16-year-old Palestinian in 2013

By Annelies Verbeek - June 13, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Israeli army] [Israeli Justice System]

B’tselem reported on June 7 that the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) decided to withdraw the indictments on the soldiers who killed 16-year-old Palestinian Samir 'Awad in 2013. 

Israeli soldiers shot and killed 'Awad when he was trapped between the separation fence and barbed wire near the Palestinian village of Budrus.
He and his friends were searching for an army patrol, looking to throw stones at soldiers after finishing a science exam.
The group of friends noticed the door of the barbed wire fence was left open. Not knowing it was an ambush, 'Awad went in.
After he entered the limited space between the barbed wire and the fence, the soldiers emerged from their ambush. 'Awad fled. A soldier and a platoon commander fired three shots at him as he was running away.
The first bullet hit him in the leg, the second entered the back of his head. The soldiers then shot him one more time in the side of his stomach.
'Awad’s friend, Malik Murar, was present at the scene when he died. He reported the soldiers left 'Awad bleeding for 20 minutes, without administering medical care. He was eventually picked up by a Palestinian ambulance and died a few hours later on the operation table.
IDF rules of engagement state that soldiers can only use live ammunition as a last resort, Amnesty International said.
The rights group wrote in a 2014 report that the killing of 'Awad “may amount to extrajudicial execution or a wilful killing, which is considered a war crime under international law.”
“Open-fire regulations permit soldiers to use live ammunition only in cases of real and immediate danger. In this instance, the soldiers were clearly in no danger whatsoever,” B’tselem wrote in a statement released a month after 'Awad’s death.
“Firing live ammunition at a fleeing person whose back is to the soldiers and who poses no immediate danger whatsoever, is unlawful,” the statement continues.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the military prosecutor first wanted to indict the soldiers with manslaughter. But as it was impossible to determine who had fired the fatal shot - the soldier or the platoon commander - both were indicted on the lesser charge of “reckless behaviour and neglect.”
The soldiers’ lawyers managed to push the prosecution to withdraw even those indictments, saying that punishing the soldiers for the killing of 'Awad would constitute “selective enforcement.”
Their argument was that Israeli soldiers are rarely indicted for killing Palestinians.
The soldiers’ attorneys had requested the court for all 110 legal military opinions on similar cases -  IDF soldiers killing Palestinians, over the last decade. This data showed that in the last seven years, out of 110 cases of IDF soldiers killing Palestinians, only four indictments have been filed.
The court was then compelled to drop the indictments against the two soldiers, allowing them to walk free.
In response to the court’s decision, B’tselem slammed the Attorney General, stating that they “will find a way to whitewash any crime.”
B’tselem emphasised that the lawyers managed to turn the attention from the soldiers’ crimes, to the those that head the courts.
Claiming the focus was shifted from the soldiers to the policy made the prosecution retreat quickly, B’tselem said. “The prosecution] made no attempt to uphold the semblance of legality that it usually holds so dear,” the statement ended.

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