B'Tselem blasts IDF for closing case in killing of noncombatant Palestinian featured in 'Five Broken Cameras'

IDF says there was insufficient evidence to indict soldiers for the death of Abu Rahmeh who was hit with a tear gas grenade.

 poster for the Oscar-nominated "5 Broken Cameras" 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
poster for the Oscar-nominated "5 Broken Cameras" 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The B’Tselem and Yesh Din human rights groups on Tuesday blasted a recently received IDF report that Magistrate Advocate-General Maj.-Gen.Danny Efroni had closed the four-year-old investigation into the killing of noncombatant Palestinian Bassem Abu Rahmeh.
The story of the Bil’in resident, 30 when he was killed, was featured in the film Five Broken Cameras following his death in April 2009.
But according to the human rights groups, until they filed a petition to the High Court of Justice to push for a decision, the IDF had not even opened an investigation, and did not do so until July 2010.
Abu Rahmeh was killed when an extended-range teargas grenade hit him in the chest during a demonstration against the West Bank security barrier in his home village of Bil’in.
According to the petitioners, three video segments filmed during the demonstration prove that Abu Rahmeh was situated to the east of the barrier, did not act violently and did not endanger the soldiers in any way.
The petitioners also attached an opinion prepared by international experts who analyzed the films documenting the incident and determined that the grenade was aimed directly at Abu Rahmeh.
Given that Abu Rahmeh did not pose any threat to the soldiers, the shooting constituted a criminal offense and the soldier who fired the grenade should be prosecuted, said B’Tselem.
B’Tselem said that the IDF’s report, which was made to the High Court in June as part of the ongoing petition, and only recently released to B’Tselem, said that there was insufficient evidence to justify a criminal investigation and that the investigation had been full and comprehensive.
The IDF did not issue a formal public statement on the case.
B’Tselem blasted the IDF’s report on the case, claiming that the IDF must explain in detail its justifications for closing the case, and that mere generalities were insufficient.
Yesh Din lawyer Emily Schaeffer said that the case was “further proof” that the IDF does not want to “arrive at the truth” even in “extreme cases like this one.”
The IDF did recently release its full case file in another incident of a killing of a Palestinian noncombatant, but frequently does not produce such an entire file, and says that the need to protect classified information, like its operational tactics, prevents full disclosure.