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15.3.2005

Tort claim for the killing of a youth in Khan Yunis: HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a compensatory claim against the state for the incident in which a youth was shot and killed in the alAmal neighborhood in Khan Yunis after trying to render aid to persons who had been wounded by IDF gunfire. No Military Police investigation was opened into the matter.

Description of the incident
On 16 March 2003, a seventeen-year-old youth, a resident of the alAmal neighborhood in Khan Yunis, noticed wounded persons calling out for help. They had been shot by IDF soldiers in the neighborhood. Shaken, he left his home and went with friends to help the wounded, when suddenly shots begun to be fired at them. The youth was seriously wounded. A bullet had struck him in the back and exited from his abdomen, shattering his internal organs and causing massive bleeding in his chest and abdomen. Ambulances were summoned to evacuate the wounded, but the soldiers fired at the ambulances, causing the ambulances delay in reaching the wounded. A short time after the youth reached the hospital he was pronounced dead.

HaMoked’s requests to the authorities and the filing of the complaint
In light of the gravity of the incident, which indicated serious criminal offenses by the soldiers, HaMoked wrote to the legal advisor in Gaza and to the Southern Command judge advocate’s office demanding an investigation. After a number of reminders, which received, at best, a reply indicating no more than that “the allegations are still being checked,” a response was finally received from the office of the legal advisor for Gaza, indicating the deceased may have been hit during an exchange of fire between the IDF and armed Palestinians. The reply meant that the IDF did not intend to investigate the incident, despite its severity.

On 15 March 2005, HaMoked filed a compensation claim against the state on behalf of the estate of the youth and his father. The complaint points out that the youth had done nothing to warrant being shot at, and that his only sin was to try to aid wounded who had called out for help.

The complaint also describes other death cases that recently occurred in the alAmal neighborhood in Khan Yunis, indicating that residents of the neighborhood are subject to constant danger of unrestrained gunfire coming from the direction of the nearby army posts. In one of the cases, in which the IDF decided not to open a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the death of an infant while he was on the roof of his house, HaMoked filed a petition to the High Court of Justice.

The complaint emphasizes the grave consequences of the decision not to open an investigation:

"In giving this impunity to the shooters, the state lays the foundation for disregard for the rule of law and for further human rights violations. By continuing to show forgiveness and by failing to punish wrongdoers even in cases when civilians who are not taking part in the hostilities – including minor children, women, and the elderly – are killed, the state transmits a message of flagrant disregard for human life. Regardless of the army’s official rhetoric, this disregard seeps into all ranks in the army, from commanders to the very last one of the soldiers. Where there is no law and no justice, every soldier knows that he has license to kill with impunity. Recently, the Israeli public has been exposed to a number of extremely severe cases of violation of the purity of arms and disregard for human life, which have been widely published in the media. The vast experience garnered by HaMoked in recent years shows that these cases are only the tip of the iceberg of a much broader phenomenon. It is not impossible that in this trigger-happy atmosphere, a commander orders his soldiers, by calling out on the company’s transmitter, that anybody approaching the army post is to be shot, even a three-year-old boy. A Givati company commander was said to have done just that in the infamous verification-of-death case, in which thirteen-year-old Iman al-Hams was killed."

The complaint alleges assault; negligence – in part, because of the uncontrolled gunfire at a residential area in a manner that endangers life, when the soldiers’ lives were not under a real threat; and breaches of statutory duties set forth in Israeli and international law. The complaint also alleges that the state is directly responsible, as well as being responsible on grounds of agency, for the negligence of the soldiers and for their breach of statutory duties. 

mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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