Two Israeli soldiers who shot and killed Palestinian teen Samir Awad will walk free after indictments against them were dropped.
The pair shot Samir Awad, a 16-year-old Palestinian, in the back on 15 January 2013. Samir and his friends had been playing near the Separation Wall outside Budrus, north west of occupied Ramallah, when he became trapped in the fence. The two soldiers from Israel’s 71st Armoured Corps Battalion then appeared from their nearby hiding place and shot the teen as he tried to flee.
A subsequent inquiry undertaken by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem said that the soldiers in question had not been in any danger at the time of the incident. Since open-fire regulations permit soldiers to use live ammunition only in cases of real and immediate mortal danger, Samir was shot unlawfully.
The two soldiers, whose names are under gag order, had been facing charges of “reckless and negligent use of a firearm,” according to +972 Magazine. The decision to drop the indictments was made after the court argued there were “significant holes in the evidence”. The prosecution will officially notify the court of their decision to withdraw the indictments today, Haaretz has reported.
Throughout the case, the defence have argued that prosecuting the two soldiers for illegally killing Samir would constitute “a selective enforcement of the law, since it is rare for an indictment to be brought against Israeli Defence Force soldiers who shoot and kill Palestinians,” according to Haaretz. To support their case, the defence cited military data which showed that in the last seven years, out of 110 cases in which soldiers had shot and killed Palestinians, only four indictments were filed. +972 reported that the Israeli authorities did not want to provide files – demanded by the defence – which would reveal statistical data regarding criminal investigations and prosecutions of other soldiers who have killed Palestinians, as well as the case materials themselves.
The case has been ongoing since 2015, when Israeli authorities finally indicted the two soldiers after a more than two-year delay. Only after Samir’s father, Ahmad Awad, sued, with the help of B’Tselem, was the case brought before the court. The trial of the soldiers began on 22 September 2016 at Ramla Magistrates Court.
The dismissal is similar to the high profile case of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot and killed wounded Palestinian Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif in Hebron in 2016. Azaria was one of the few soldiers to be convicted for killing a Palestinian, receiving an 18-month prison sentence. He was released early for “good behaviour” after serving only nine months behind bars.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “between January 1 and November 6, 2017, Israeli security forces killed 62 Palestinians, including 14 children, and injured at least 3,494 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, including protesters, suspected assailants or members of armed groups, and bystanders.” During the recent Great March of Return, 120 Palestinians were killed and a further 13,000 were injured during a seven-week period.