+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

When shooting a Palestinian in the back is merely 'reckless'

Why trust the military to investigate itself when soldiers who kill unarmed Palestinians are let off the hook time and time again?

By Alma Biblash

A Palestinian youth is caught in clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers. (Activestills.org)

A Palestinian youth is caught in clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers. (Activestills.org)

In January 2013, an Israeli soldier shot a 16-year-old Palestinian who posed absolutely no threat in his back. Samir Awad, from the village Budrus, didn’t survive the valiant military operation, and was killed. Last December, the High Court of Justice harshly criticized the Military Advocate General’s (MAG) handling of the case calling on it to finish its investigation.

On Tuesday, the State announced that it would charge the soldier reckless and negligent use of a firearm. Had the incident not ended with the death of a teenager, it could have come off as no more than a silly act of mischief.

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which accompanied the Awad family throughout the legal process, called the decision a “new low in Israeli authorities’ disregard for the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The State Attorney’s Office has sent security forces in the Occupied Territories a clear message: if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will do everything to cover it up and ensure impunity.” According to Yesh Din, an Israeli organization that provides legal assistance to Palestinians in the occupied territories that has researched this issue in the past few years, 97.8 percent of the Criminal Investigation Division’s (CID) investigations vis-a-vis harm caused to Palestinians have ended without indictments.

This situation persists even when incidents are documented from every possible angle, as was the case when Bassem Abu Rahmah was shot and killed during a nonviolent demonstration in Bil’in almost exactly five years ago. Abu Rahme’s case was also closed for lack of evidence.

An Israeli solider with a Ruger riffle lies on the ground during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv)

An Israeli solider with a Ruger riffle lies on the ground during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv)

So perhaps those who still put their faith in a military court system will be happy about the decision regarding Samir Awad, even if the decision to indict the soldier for “reckless and negligent use of a firearm,” borders on grotesque cynicism—a desecration of the honor of the deceased and his family.

A different, necessary conclusion could go as follows: the CID and the MAG have nothing to do with justice or good faith. Both Palestinian deaths and lives are entirely forsaken under Israel’s military rule. Even if they are children who pose no threat. Perhaps the time has come to stop relying on the internal mechanisms of the occupation army, stop cooperating with their charade and begin thinking about alternative mechanisms. The kind that will be able to say, unabashedly, that the Israeli army murdered Samir Awad.

Alma Biblash is a feminist and human rights activist based in Jaffa and blogger on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, where this article was first published.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Pedro X

      Do you notice that 972mag never questions if the Palestinians investigate, charge, convict and incarcerate Palestinians who have killed or injured Israelis. Nor does it ask why day in and day out Palestinians are encouraged to kill or injure Jewish people. 972mag does not question how the Palestinian treasury funds Palestinian terrorism from the West Bank and Gaza. 972mag does not question the Palestinian funding of terrorists and their families.

      972mag does not mention that yesterday Israel captured two terrorists who were in the final stages of preparing a Purim attack a month ago. 972mag will not mention that last night 31 Hamas terrorists were captured in the West Bank as Palestinians are stepping up attempts to commit acts of terrorism against Israelis.

      Yet Israel has investigated questionable conduct and indicted Israelis where is sufficient evidence to lay an indictment. Israelis have been sentenced to life and 15 years of imprisonment for offenses involving serious acts of violence against Palestinians. 972mag deems to think that every Palestinian complaint should result in the prosecution and jailing of the person charged.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Do you know any Palestinians personally?

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X


          Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        Did you notice that whenever a Palestinian kills or wounds an Israeli, the Israeli authorities take over the investigation, it comes with being the colonizer.

        We know you found killing Khayr al-Din Hamdan with a bullet to his back was a great job by the Israeli police. What about this 16-years old kid killed with a bullet to his back, was that a good job too ?

        In case you want to see his face, but I guess you don’t care …..

        PS. I hope you’re paid to comment here, if you really believed all the shit you publish it would be tragic, and after all, you’ve probably got bills to pay.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Another cold, slippery, machine-like defense of the indefensible by the hasbara-bot. Is Pedro X actually a computer sitting in the basement of the Israeli information ministry?

        Reply to Comment
    2. dekkers

      The occupiers never investigate. Kill for fun and your buddies just make up a stupid story. When caught on tape they say it’s tampered with. They lie and don’t even care that everybody knows. To see this kind of disrespect and pure hatred for other lives is disgusting and shameful. Only with a bribe people support these war crimes

      Reply to Comment