Court asked to reconsider targeted assassination ruling

Yesh Gvul activist Yoav Hass has called on the High Court of Justice to reconsider its decision to reject a petition he filed together with more than 200 people regarding the IDF's targeted killing of the leader of Hamas's military wing, Saleh Shehadeh Gaza in 2002. At least 13 civilians died in the IAF attack. In November, he and the others petitioned the High Court against Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak and retired deputy Supreme Court president Mishael Cheshin. The three justices comprised the panel that heard an earlier petition by Hass and several poets and writers demanding that the police open a criminal investigation against all those involved in the decision to drop a one-ton bomb on the apartment building where Shehadeh lived. One of Hass' targets was IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, who served as commander of the air force at the time. The bomb killed Shehadeh, his wife, an assistant, his 14-year-old daughter and 11 other civilians, most of them also children. The petition was filed on September 30, 2003 and the court has still not handed down its decision. In his November petition, Hass demanded that the High Court order the three justices to rule on the original petition immediately. Last week, Justice Edmond Levy and Acting Justices Devora Berliner and David Cheshin rejected the petition out of hand, stating that the court had ruled on a petition protesting targeted assassinations. "In the meantime, by the time your petition came to our attention, the court ruled on the petitions you had referred to," the court wrote. "Therefore, the [new] petition is superfluous." Hass wrote back a few days later, telling the court it had gotten the petitions mixed up. Two weeks ago, Barak handed down a ruling on a petition submitted by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization, who charged that the state's policy of targeted killings was illegal. Indeed, for a time, this petition had been merged with the Shehadeh petition. But Barak's ruling dealt only with the general petition filed by the two human rights groups. "So long as you do not rule on [our original] petition, you cannot determine that [our new] petition is superfluous," Hass told the judges. On Tuesday, Hass told The Jerusalem Post the court had not yet replied to his request to reconsider the decision to close the file. He said if he did not hear back soon, he would complain to the Judicial Ombudsman, Tova Strasberg-Cohen and if this proved unsatisfactory, he would turn to the State Comptroller. If this did not help, he continued, he would take the matter to international forums.