Parents petition Israeli High Court over daughter killed by Israeli army

Relatives of 13 year-old Palestinian girl Iman Al Hams, mourn over her body at the family house during her funeral in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuseday, Oct 5. 2004. The girl was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, according to local and army sources, when she wandered from her normal path to school. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The parents of Iman Al-Hams and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) petition the High Court of Justice demanding that the IDF investigate the giving of illegal open fire orders to the soldiers at the “Girit” military post. In a petition filed to the High Court of Justice today, January 23, the petitioners maintain that there is evidence that the soldiers stationed at the “Girit” military outpost were given blatantly illegal orders stating that they must shoot to kill anyone, including civilians who do not endanger anyone’s life, without even resorting to the procedure regulating the arrest of suspects.

The petitioners also demand that the supervision of the investigation be taken out of the hands of the Military Attorney’s office because of its involvement in the drafting of the open fire regulations.

The girl Iman Al-Hams, 13 years old, was killed by IDF fire on October 5, 2004, while on her way to school. After she was hit, the battalion commander, Captain “R” “confirmed” the killing. The internal military investigation conducted by the division commander exonerated the soldiers stationed at the outpost from all blame. However, evidence given by some soldiers that reached the press suggested that illegal actions took place during the above incident.

The Military Investigative Police investigation of the event raised a suspicion that the battalion commander confirmed the killing of the girl. He was charged with the “illegal use of arms”. No soldier was charged with the girl’s death.

Imam Al Hams’ family and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), represented by attorneys Lea Tsemel and Michael Sfard, demanded to view the classified investigation material and, after 6 weeks, Attorney Sfard was allowed to see some of it. In the petition it is stated:

“After studying the material, Attorney Sfard discerned that central, significant points were missing from the Military Investigative Police inquiry. This lead to the consolidation of our position, the result of which is this petition: the investigation of the severe incident of the killing of the girl Imam Al-Hams focused only only on finding compatibility between the lethal bullet and the soldier who fired it, and the clarification of the circumstances of the killing confirmation.

The Military Investigative Police and the Military Attorney’s Office did not examine the issue of the commanders’ responsibility for the event, nor the question of how it came about that tens of elite IDF fighters opened fire on a “figure“ who did not endanger anyone’s life (if we accept their claim that they did not distinguish that it was a 13 year old girl) and, in addition, did not first carry out the procedure for the arrest of suspects, or give the “figure” a chance to surrender or prove that she has no intention of harming anyone”.

In addition, it is claimed in the petition that the investigation material contains evidence that illegal orders were allegedly given resulting in the girl’s death. The giving and the execution of the order, according to the petition, constitute a war crime and are grounds for criminal liability for the girl’s death.

The petition also includes the demand that the responsibility for the investigation be taken out of the hands of the Military Attorney’s Office because of its involvement in the drafting of open fire regulations and transferred to the civil prosecution.

Related Links

  • Israeli rights group: “Trigger-happy attitude among Israeli soldiers”, B’Tselem (24 November 2004)
  • Iman: Executing another child in Rafah, Omar Barghouti (29 October 2004)
  • Double standards that kill, Hasan Abu Nimah (13 October 2004)
  • The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel