The Israeli military has closed the case files of three Palestinians who were killed by its forces in 2018, prompting backlash from rights groups like B’Tselem who initially investigated the killings.
The Military Advocate General’s Corps (MAG Corps) closed the cases of three Palestinians who were killed in the occupied West Bank, which B’Tselem described as “unjustified.”
“Nevertheless, and even though the incidents should not have had fatal consequences – not even by the standards of military regulations – the very fact that investigations were undertaken has once again created an illusion of a functioning accountability apparatus,” B’Tselem said in a press release on Monday.
“At the end of the day, these belated so-called investigations, too, ended in whitewashing,” the group continued.
The cases in question were those of 17-year-old Ali Qinu from Iraq Burin (Nablus), 16-year-old Layth Abu Naim from al-Mughayyir (Ramallah) and 35-year-old Yassin al-Saradih from Jericho.
All three Palestinians were shot during January and February 2018. Qinu was shot in the head by Israeli forces from inside their jeep while Qinu and a group of young men threw stones at the vehicle.
B’Tselem emphasized that Israel’s open-fire regulations state that “shooting to kill is permitted only when the lives of security forces or other persons are in danger,” and that Qinu’s killing was “a far cry from meeting these criteria.”
Abu Naim was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet from a distance of around 20 meters, critically injuring him. According to B’Tselem’s investigation, the Israeli soldiers responsible “left the scene without providing him any medical assistance.”
“Firing a rubber-coated metal bullet from a range of around 20 meters at the upper body could be lethal and is therefore expressly prohibited by the open-fire regulations,” the group noted.
In the case of al-Saradih, who was shot when he attempted to attack a group of soldiers with an iron bar, B’Tselem highlighted the fact that video evidence showed soldiers kicking and beating an injured al-Saradih as he lay injured on the ground.
The soldiers then dragged the man to a nearby alleyway and refused him medical assistance for over half an hour. “Withholding medical assistance and assaulting an injured person are illegal and violate basic moral norms,” the group said.
“It is no accident that all three case files were closed,” B’Tselem said, saying the three cases were only a few of the hundreds that have been “whitewashed” over the years.
Qinu, Abu Naim, and al-Saradih were just three of 290 Palestinians killed by Israel in 2018, most of whom were “victims of a reckless open-fire policy,” B’Tselem reported at the time.
“The system does not truly seek to uncover the facts and promote justice for the victims,” the group continued. “Rather, it is primarily aimed at defending the perpetrators, while creating the illusion of a functioning system so as to deflect criticism.”
“It is the standard conduct of the military law enforcement system, based on the understanding that condoning – even implicitly – soldiers’ blatant breach of orders without holding anyone accountable is what allows the continued use of lethal force.”