Court rejects probe into killing of Hamas leader

High Court rules no flaw in A-G's decision not to probe 2002 attack in which 14 civilians killed.

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a petition against the attorney-general's decision not to open a criminal investigation into the Israeli assassination of a top Hamas leader in Gaza six years ago. The ruling by Israel's highest court in the case of Salah Shehadeh comes as the government might renew its targeted attacks against top Hamas leaders in Gaza, following a serious escalation in rocket attacks from the Strip. Israeli security officials said that Shehadeh was a top terrorist who was directly involved in the planning and execution of attacks against Israeli civilians. He was killed in an Israeli missile attack in 2002, along with 14 civilians, including his wife and daughter. Many on the Left branded the killing of the civilians a "war crime." After the attack, Israel's attorney-general and the chief military prosecutor found that there was no place to open an investigation into the operation, prompting the far-left Yesh Gvul Movement and one of its activists to file a petition in 2003 with the High Court of Justice, asking it to order one. The court also found that there was no flaw in the makeup of a panel appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to investigate the attack. The panel was named in February as part of the state's response to the Yesh Gvul petition. That panel, headed by former military advocate-general Zvi Inbar has yet to present its conclusions. The petitioners had claimed that the committee, which also includes former OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Eitan, and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officer Yitzhak Dar, was too "military oriented." But the three-justice panel didn't buy the argument. "The dissatisfaction and mainly the lack of trust that the appellants express in the makeup of the panel are baseless, and do not create a pretext for our intervention," Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch wrote in her ruling.