Israeli Soldier Acquitted Despite Killing Palestinian Civilian
Thursday January 12, 2012 01:02 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Four years after an Israeli soldier used his sniper rifle to kill a Palestinian civilian from Bethlehem district visiting family in the Ramallah district; an Israeli court acquitted the soldier and claimed that there is not enough evidence to convict the soldier, adding that no charges were filed against the shooter, the Arabs48 News Agency reported.
Illustration Photo - Image Arabs48
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, issued a report stating that it filed an appeal to the Israeli High Court, on August 08, 2011, and was informed that the officer who shot and killed Firas Qasqas, 32, will be sent to court. But the prosecution never revealed what charges will be filed against the soldier.
Qasqas was killed on December, 02, 2007, when an Israeli soldier used his sniper rifle to kill him despite the fact that he was hundreds of meters away, was not armed and did not pose any threat.
The incident took place in At-Teera village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah; Qasqas, from Batteer village near Bethlehem, and his family, were visiting relatives in At-Teera.
In February last year, B’Tselem filed an appeal demanding the Military Prosecutor’s Office to act against the soldier.
According to B’Tselem’s investigation, at noon hours on December 2nd, Qasqas and two of his relatives were walking in an open area near the houses of At-Teera village, and then a number of Israeli soldiers, 500 meters away, opened fire at them without any prior warning.
The three were unarmed, and did not act in any way that might look suspicious. Qasqas was shot in the back, and the bullet exited from his chest. His two relatives rushed him to a local hospital in Ramallah but he died of his wounds.
After the fatal shooting, B’Tselem repeatedly contacted the Israeli Military Prosecution, asking it to open an investigation into the shooting, and two months later, the Military Prosecutor ordered an investigation and B’Tselem helped in collecting the testimonies of the two witnesses, and provided the investigators all related documentation.
On August 18, 2011, the Prosecution announced that the Central Command of the Israeli Military had concluded all investigations, and decided that the issue of filing charges against the officer should be considered, and that a hearing will be conducted in order to listen to the testimony of the commander who ordered the soldier to open fire.
The Defense attorney of the officer (Morr) claimed that “there is no way to prove that the cause of death was that bullet”, and that “there is no proof that anybody was killed in the incident in question”.
He also claimed that the medical reports are incomplete, and do not include the autopsy report that indicated the exact cause of death.
The court then decided to close the file of Qasqas without any indictment against any soldier, and claimed that “despite the fact the soldiers opened fire in violation to the open-fire regulations in the area, yet, the soldiers act in a practical manner as they opened fire when they felt that they were in danger”.
It also said that “despite the fact that the decision to open fire was wrong, the act is not a crime and does not even constitute negligence”.