Thursday , August 18 2022

Court rejects petition against humane plea agreement for Israeli soldier who killed innocent Palestinians – Israel News


The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected a petition seeking the revocation of a plea agreement for a soldier who shot and killed innocent Palestinians and seriously injured another Palestinian in 2019.

The deceased, Ahmad Manasra, 23, was helping the other man, Ala Raayda, who was shot by the soldier. Under the plea agreement, the soldier was sentenced to three months of community service and had to admit to the details in the indictment, which accused him of causing death by negligence.

The petition, filed by attorney Shlomo Lecker on behalf of Palestinian victims, addressed the humane plea agreement and fact, although a description of the shooting that injured Raayda was included in the indictment , the soldier was not charged with that shooting.

According to the indictment, in March 2019 there was a hit-and-run road accident near the town of al-Khader in the Jerusalem area, involving Raayda, who was with his wife and two daughters. Raayda stopped his car at the junction, got out and waved his arms at the fleeing vehicle.

The indictment states that the soldier, who was in a guard post at the junction, believed he was throwing stones at Israeli vehicles; he shouted a warning and shot in the air before shooting at him. But Raayda testified in an affidavit that he was shot outside his car without any warning, in violation of open fire orders. He was wounded in his abdomen and was taken to hospital in serious condition.

Ahmad Manasra's father holds a photo of him during a demonstration before the Jaffa Military Court, August 17, 2020.

Ilan Assayag

The indictment describes how Manasra came to the scene with three friends after attending a wedding in Bethlehem. The three friends took Raayda to the hospital while Manasra stayed with Raayda’s wife and daughters to help them restart the car. According to the indictment, Manasra was shot when he got out of the car, and was shot again when he tried to flee.

High Court Magistrates Menachem Mazuz, Noam Sohlberg and Yael Willner heard the petition. Mazuz began the verdict by saying, “Indeed, there is no doubt that this is a serious incident with tragic consequences. There is no dispute, in retrospect, that this was not a terrorist incident, but a mistake by a soldier who understood the incident as a terrorist attempt. ”

Mazuz justified refusing the petition because it was filed after the indictment was filed with the military court, and after the soldier confessed and was convicted of what he was accused of. He added that, according to the military prosecution, Lecker had been kept informed of the developments in the case. As for the sentence, the Mazuz wrote that sanctions are at the discretion of the military court.

The magistrates also addressed the way in which the military investigators conducted the investigation, and the fact that, before the soldier explained himself, the prosecution intended to charge him with reckless homicide, causing injury in aggravating circumstances and tampering with evidence. After the soldier’s hearing, he signed a plea agreement in which he admitted to only one crime – causing death by negligence. “Although we are talking about clear operational activity, under circumstances of security tension, the investigating authorities and the military prosecution did not avoid conducting an intensive and comprehensive investigation,” the ruling noted.

Lecker said a week before the court hearing, he requested that the file from the Military Police be submitted to the court for review, because the dispute between the two sides was factual. The court denied the request. “The panel was obviously not interested in seeing the contentious evidence that is supposed to inform the hearing and decision,” he said.

A man holding a saying that reads 'Justice to Ala' during a demonstration before the Jaffa Military Court, August 17, 2020.

Ilan Assayag

“What is unique and extraordinary about this case is the fact that the soldier admitted without hesitation that he shot Ahmad Manasra with the intention of killing him while Ahmad ran for his life towards the Palestinian community closest, ”said Lecker. “There was no allegation that Ahmad, at the time of the shooting, with intent to kill, was doing anything suspicious. That is, the soldier decided to execute a man who did not endanger anyone, and subsequently received the support of the senior, military prosecution [Israel Defense Forces] commanders and the High Court of Justice. ”

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