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2012 | HCJ 1901/08, July 15, 2012 - Israel Democracy Insttute

High Court of Justice Rejects Petition for Criminal Investigation of IDF Killing of Palestinian' in The Israeli Democracy Institute - Terrorism and Democracy | Issue No. 43.

This is an analysis of the Israeli Supreme Court's decision to reject the petition by the family of Issa Dababse, a Palestinian from the West Bank who was killed by IDF soldiers in July 2001. The petition had requested the Court to instruct the Military Advocate General (MAG) to conduct a criminal investigation into the circumstances of Dababse's death.1 The Court rejected the assertion that Dababse's killing was a targeted killing operation and held that based on the available information and considering the time that has passed since the event, there are no grounds to order a criminal investigation.

The analysis includes a summary of the facts of the incident and of the court's arguments for refusing the petition. The article concludes that this case demonstrates the thin line separating lawful and unlawful counter-terrorism measures: An operation resulting in the death of a suspect is lawful if the operation was carried out in order to arrest him but it is unlawful if it was designed to kill. In such cases, it is extremely difficult for the petitioner to establish the true intent of the security forces, and the Court would do well to closely scrutinize the evidence.

Investigations are an indispensable first step towards claiming reparations for allegedly unlawful killings or injuries caused by Israel's military forces in the occupied Palestinian territories. The question of whether and when such investigations must be conducted has been vigorously debated by Israel and numerous national and international human rights monitors. See especially the Turkel Commission's report of 2013 as well as several responses to it elsewhere in this section.