State closes file in death of 10-yr-old Palestinian

Says "no proof" that Palestinian peacenik's daughter was shot by IDF.

After re-examining the circumstances in the death last year of 10-year-old Abir Aramin in the West Bank village of Anata, the state has reconfirmed its decision not to indict any of the border policemen stationed near her school around the time she was killed, it disclosed on Tuesday. Last week, the state's representative, attorney Nehama Zussman, wrote a letter to Michael Sfard, the attorney for the human rights organization Yesh Din - which represented the girl's father - informing him of the decision. "According to all the facts detailed above," Zussman concluded, "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." In response to the state's decision, Yesh Din charged that it had been guilty of "grave factual errors" in its investigation. Bassam Aramin was not available to answer a phone call by The Jerusalem Post before press time. Ten-year-old Abir died suddenly on January 16, 2007, while walking down the street with her sister and two friends after they left school. At the time of her death, a border police patrol was stationed near the school and an adjacent boys' school. According to members of the patrol, large gangs of youths began pelting them with rocks. After trying to disperse them with shock grenades and tear gas, the policemen opened fire with rubber bullets. Both an Israeli surgeon from Hadassah Hospital and a pathologist hired by the Aramin family stated that Abir had been killed by a blunt instrument that could have been either a rubber bullet or a rock. The Israeli doctor said that while operating on Abir, he had not found a bullet exit hole or any metallic substance or bullet fragments in her head. He said it appeared that she had been killed by a rock or, perhaps, been knocked down by a rock and hit her head on the sidewalk. The pathologist said Abir could have been hit by either a rubber bullet or a rock, but determined it was more likely she had been hit by a rubber bullet. The border policemen said they had held back at first, but the rocks continued to rain down on them and one patrol member was injured. At that point, they began firing rubber bullets. They saw that one rioter had been hit and taken away for treatment, but did not see anyone else who had been hurt. According to the policemen, they left the village sometime between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and were again bombarded by rocks after the jeep stalled. The entry in the patrol log describing these events showed the time to be 10:03 a.m. According to Sfard, the police opened fire before the students stoned them. The log entry proved that they had left the village between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., long after Abir was hurt and even after she had been admitted to hospital. Zussman said the policemen added that from their vantage point at the time, they could not see the spot where Abir was hit. Sfard, however, argued that the students had thrown their rocks at an angle from which they could not have hit Abir. Sfard wrote Zussman on Tuesday morning, challenging her findings and charging that she had not provided answers to the questions he had raised in his initial appeal to reexamine the case. Zussman, however, replied later the same day, once again rejecting his arguments. Sfard said he would consider taking legal action against the state's decision.