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Israel Supreme Court backs army’s refusal to prosecute killer of Palestinian activist

A Palestinian activists, Bassem Abu Rahmeh, was killed on 17 April 2009 by when an Israeli soldier fired a tear-gas canister directly at his chest

Nine years after a Palestinian activist was killed by Israeli occupation forces in a West Bank village, the Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a final appeal against the army’s refusal to prosecute those responsible, reported +972 Magazine.

Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed on 17 April 2009, during a popular demonstration in Bil’in, when an Israeli soldier fired a tear-gas canister directly at his chest. The incident was captured on film.

This was supposed to be an easy case: a killing that was captured by three cameras, top experts identifying the source of the lethal shot, and a clear violation of the rules of engagement

said lawyer Michael Sfard, who represented Abu Rahmeh’s family and NGO Yesh Din in the case.

“Both the military police and the military prosecution have made it clear in this case that they will do anything they can to deny justice to the victim, and obstruct any chance of getting to the truth.”

According to +972 Magazine, Israel’s Military Advocate General (MAG) took a year to respond to – and reject – the demand for an investigation made by Subhiyeh Abu Rahmeh, Bassem’s mother, a few days after her son was killed. On appeal, the MAG changed its position.

Read: Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza protests

Three years later, “the State Attorney released the findings of the investigation to the High Court, stating that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal proceedings against any of the soldiers involved in Abu Rahmeh’s killing.”

The report noted how in testimony gathered by Breaking the Silence three-and-a-half years after the shooting, “a soldier who served in the same military unit as Abu Rahmeh’s killer confirmed that those regulations had been violated that day”.

“[O]ne of the soldiers simply aimed at someone point-blank and it hit his chest and he got killed,” the unnamed soldier said, adding “that the shooter bragged about killing Abu Rahmeh and later marked his weapon with an ‘X’ to indicate the kill”.

According to Yesh Din, 79 per cent of complaints received by MAG in 2016 were closed without investigation, while of the 78 cases investigated that year, “only five resulted in indictments against soldiers for causing harm to Palestinians or their property in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip”.

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