Ziad Jilani with his three daughters.
The family of Ziad Jilani, an East Jerusalem resident shot and killed at point blank range by Israeli Border Police, will have to keep searching for justice. Last week, the Israeli attorney general announced that no charges would be pressed against the two officers who killed Jilani.
The decision is the latest in a legal saga that began when the state prosecutor closed the case after the incident occurred. But after that decision, the Jilani family appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which decided that there was some evidence that might justify a criminal case. The court sent it back to the attorney general–who has now decided not to press any charges.
In a statement printed by Ma’an News, Yehuda Weinstein, the attorney general, said:
We cannot rule out, beyond reasonable doubt, that one of the fighters (border policemen) really did believe in real time that the deceased, that moved his hand while he was lying wounded on the ground, was yet to be finally neutralized, and was still considered a danger. As a result, (Vinogradov) was startled, and committed another shooting in his direction from close range.
(Hebrew readers can find the attorney general’s decision here on blogger Richard Silverstein’s website.)
Weinstein is referring to Maxim Vinogradov’s defense of his actions two years ago. Vinogradov is the Israeli officer who executed Jilani on a dead end street while Jilani was lying, injured, on the floor. Vinogradov’s Internet history is littered with racist comments about Arabs and Turks, and the Jilani family has argued that “Maxim was planning to kill any Arab.”
In an interview with Mondoweiss in May, Ziad Jilani’s sister, Iman, described what happened to Ziad on June 11, 2010:
We definitely know it was an accident, his car was hit by a stone before he probably got confused and was trying to get out of the situation, and that’s why the soldiers that were walking got somewhat hit by him. It was very minor–if he wanted to kill soldiers, he would go full force and hit them very hard. And in this case, he barely brushed them, and they started firing right away. And of course when someone fires at you, what are you going to do? You’ll try to run. He knew they were going to kill him. And actually they just started shooting randomly–a little girl got injured, an old man also got injured in the whole shooting, and so [Ziad] said, maybe I can take refuge at my uncle’s house.
He went into a dead end, which he knew was a dead end because my uncle lives there. And he thought maybe they’ll stop shooting, but they shot him in the back, he fell on the floor, lying on the floor on his belly, his hands are up, and they knew he was no threat whatsoever because his shirt was up and there was nothing there. Initially, they said they were worried he had a bomb around his body, which he didn’t, and this guy Maxim, trigger happy, comes over, steps on his neck and shoots him in the head. And of course rejoicing after that, “I killed him, I killed him.” I really don’t believe this should have happened, and we think this was an act of hatred from Maxim, and we want justice. And it seems they won’t prosecute any soldier as long as they say they say that they suspect a terrorist.
The Jilani family has been pushing for the prosecution of Ziad’s killers since his death, and recently launched a campaign, “Killing Without Consequences,” to bring attention to Ziad’s death and the larger problem of impunity for Israeli officers who kill Palestinians. Nearly 3,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for charges to be filed against Ziad’s killers, and memorials and rallies on the two-year anniversary of Ziad’s death were held outside Israeli consulates earlier this month.
The Jilani family says that they will keep searching for justice through other avenues.