'Compensate killed girl's family'

Court says state is responsible for death of 10-year-old Palestinain.

311_Anata girl death (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Anata girl death
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Jerusalem District Court Judge Orit Efaal- Gabay on Monday found the state guilty of negligence in the death of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, Abir Aramin, who was struck in the head and killed after leaving school in Anata on January 16, 2007.
The case of Abir Aramin has been extensively reported in the media after her parents, Bassem and Salo Aramin, demanded that the army open a criminal investigation to discover who killed their daughter.
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Bassem Aramin also became well-known as a founding member of an organization composed of former Palestinian terrorists and of Israeli reserve solders who refused to serve in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip known as “Fighters for Peace.”
So far, the army has refused to accept responsibility for Abir’s death, saying she was killed by a rock thrown by Palestinian protesters at a Border Police detachment that was patrolling the area around the school where the girl studied. She was killed after leaving school and buying candy together with her sister and two friends.
In her ruling, Efaal-Gabay wrote that “it seems that there can be no dispute regarding the conclusion that Amir was killed by a rubber bullet that was fired by the Border Police... There is also another conclusion, that the bullet that struck Abir was fired recklessly or in violation of open-fire orders. The case is not one of having been struck by a rubber bullet fired at protesters and rock-throwers among whom stood a little girl. Abir and her friends were walking along a street where no stones were being thrown at the Border Police force.”
Abir’s parents have been making the same claim ever since their daughter was killed, but the army and the state have refused to grant their demand for a criminal investigation.
On February 12, 2008, after the state reexamined the case and again refused to order an investigation, the state’s representative, attorney Nehama Zussman, wrote to Aramin’s lawyer, Michael Sfard, that “there is not enough evidence to show that those against whom the complaints were filed shot rubber bullets in the direction of the girl. Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence to prove that a rubber bullet fired during the incident struck the girl and caused her death.”
As a result of the state’s refusal to order a criminal investigation, Bassem Aramin filed a petition with the High Court of Justice, asking it to order the state to do so. The petition is still pending.
On February 14, the court issued a show-cause order to the state, asking it to explain why it refused to reopen the case.
Sfard told The Jerusalem Post that Monday’s district court decision would have a strong influence on the outcome of the petition.
The attorney who represented the Aramin family in the lawsuit against the state was Lea Tzemel.
The court’s decision on Monday was an interim one. It established the state’s responsibility and negligence regarding Abir Aramin’s death but did not determine the amount of damages it would award for her death and for the severe psychological damage suffered by her sister Arin, who was walking with her when she was shot.