State asks more delay in blackeye Awad case despite past court ruling to move it

State seeks extension in more than 2-year-old shooting of unarmed Palestinian minor; Case comes as UN, ICC investigate promptness of Israeli investigations.

By
March 17, 2015 17:18
3 minute read.
idf west bank

IDF soldiers at a temporary checkpoint in the West Bank [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The state on Monday asked for an additional three months to investigate the shooting death of an unarmed Palestinian youth, Samir Awad, 16, in January 2013, despite being ordered by the High Court of Justice last December 1 to expedite the case. The court upbraided the IDF legal division for dragging out the investigation for two years, such that the soldiers accused of his death had meanwhile become demobilized.

In December, Justice Hanan Melcer commented on the length of the investigation, saying the state should decide whether to indict the soldiers by March 1. “What happened here is not proper,” said Melcer. “When I was in [the prosecution] many years ago, when soldiers were nearing the end of their service, we made sure that the criminal investigations were completed.”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The new delay request stands out against the proceedings of the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza War and the International Criminal Court’s evaluation of the promptness of Israeli investigations in general, and the Gaza war in particular.

Once a soldier returns to civilian life, the general rule is that the IDF legal division can no longer prosecute the individual. The file must be turned over to the state attorney, which creates significant delay since the state must learn the case from scratch.

To avoid this situation, the High Court ordered both the state and the IDF to render a final decision on whether to indict the shooters by the end of February and scheduled a follow- up hearing for March 17.

B’Tselem on Monday opposed the state’s request for a further threemonth extension as “arbitrary” and characteristic of how the case had been handled to date.

The state’s explanation of the need for further delay included an affidavit from Lt.-Col. Adoram Rigler affirming that the state had utilized the previous three-month extension for the Operations Prosecution Unit and Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Danny Efroni to make recommendations on the case to the state prosecutor.



According to the state, the State Prosecutor’s Office had only recently received the file and the IDF’s recommendation and forwarded it to the Central District Attorney’s Office for handling the case.

B’Tselem noted that this put the state at odds with the High Court’s December decision, which explicitly called for State Attorney Shai Nitzan to be personally involved in the case along with the MAG to reach a collective decision by the deadline.

B’Tselem had said that not giving the state extra time to make a separate finding after the IDF’s February decision had probably saved months of additional delays.

The state’s request for an additional substantial delay is likely to invite the wrath of the court in that respect.

Even in December, the NGO criticized the IDF for the hold up both in this case and a general pattern of what it called “unexplainable delays” to bury cases or drain them of public attention.

According to B’Tselem, Awad was killed on January 15, 2013, when soldiers fired live ammunition from close range, striking him in the back of the head near the West Bank security barrier in the village of Budrus, around 30 km. from Ramallah.

The NGO said that the shot that killed him “was fired at the unarmed Awad after he had already been wounded in the leg and posed no danger to the troops,” and was trying to flee.

B’Tselem said that Awad had crossed the security barrier illegally, but it is known that many Palestinians do so and are generally arrested, not shot.

At the time of the incident, the IDF’s official response was that “there was an attempt to break through the security fence” and that troops “followed the protocol for arresting a suspect. Later, a report was received of a Palestinian wounded by gunfire. The incident is being reviewed.”

The IDF noted that the Military Police had performed a wide investigation and referred the file to IDF lawyers, who then sent it back to investigators to perform “additional complex investigative actions requiring a variety of areas of special expertise.”

Related Content

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at a faction meeting on June 18th, 2018
August 19, 2018
Erez Crossing closed to create link between security and economic benefit

By HERB KEINON, TOVAH LAZAROFF