Court orders IDF to reopen case of wounded U.S. activist [three stories]
March 1, 2005
Court orders IDF to reopen case of wounded U.S. activist
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
The Supreme Court instructed the Israeli Defense Forces on Monday to
take testimony in the closed case of a U.S. activist who charged that
troops shot and seriously wounded him without provocation in the West
Bank nearly two years ago.
Brian Avery, 26, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was shot in the face
in the West Bank town of Jenin on April 5, 2003. He was part of a
contingent from the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian
group whose activists often insert themselves between Palestinians and
Israeli forces to disrupt military operations.
According to Avery, he and a colleague were standing still, wearing
bright red medic vests with their hands over their heads, when soldiers
opened fire from approaching military vehicles without firing warning
After an internal army probe decided Avery's allegations were baseless,
he asked the court to order a criminal investigation, but the court only
ordered the military to reopen the case and take testimony, falling
short from accepting the activist's demand in full.
"I'm just happy that the judges believe the case requires further
action," Avery said after the hearing.
After six reconstructive surgeries on his face, Avery's disabilities
from the shooting include impaired vision in his left eye and several
The army said Monday it regrets the pain caused to the Avery family and
will follow the Supreme Court's ruling.
Avery's attorney, Michael Sfard, said that the ruling "shows the
military that even internal inquiries should be managed professionally
and with care to get testimony from all sides, not just from members of
Human rights groups have criticized the IDF during the four years of the
Intifada when army attacks that resulted in civilian casualties have
been handled through internal inquiries rather than criminal
The groups charge that few soldiers have been tried or punished for
harming civilians. Standard IDF replies blame Palestinian militants for
operating in civilian areas, and say that civilian casualties are
During the hearing, Justice Edmund Levy explained the rationale behind
the ruling. With Avery seated in front of him, Levy said, "The man wants
to know what happened to him. Surely as a state, as a court, we should
want the same ... it's the least we can do."
Avery said he plans to file a civil lawsuit to seek compensation from
the Israeli government in the next two weeks.
March 1, 2005
State agrees to hear witnesses in shooting of ISM activist
By DAN IZENBERG
The state reluctantly accepted a suggestion by the High Court of Justice
on Monday to hear testimony about an incident in Jenin two years ago in
which a pro-Palestinian activist was shot in the face and seriously
Brian Avery, a 26-year-old member of the International Solidarity
Movement, and his attorney, Michael Sfard, petitioned the court to force
Judge Advocate General Avi Mandelblit to order a Military Police
investigation into the incident.
Supreme Court Deputy President Mishael Cheshin told Sfard he wanted to
postpone the hearing until the court ruled on another petition, which
challenged the army's current policy of not conducting official
investigations of all incidents involving casualties.
But Sfard said Avery's case "cried out to the heavens." "Six people
[including Avery] have given eyewitness accounts of what happened," he
told the court. "The army does not say... that they are lying. The army
examiners shrugged their shoulders and said they didn't know anything."
Cheshin, unconvinced, continued to insist that the court first rule on
the army's general policy of not conducting military police
investigations during the current Palestinian-Israeli violence. "This is
a unique case," replied Sfard. "In petitions representing the public at
large it is a different matter... My client seeks remedy."
At this point, Justice Edmond Levy intervened and suggested a compromise
whereby army investigators would hear the eyewitness testimony. "We as a
country must do everything we can to get to the bottom of this," said
After consulting with the judge advocate general, the state's
representative, Yuval Roitman, agreed to have the officer who had
originally investigated the incident question the witnesses.
The court will resume the hearing after the army and decided whether to
change its stance.
Avery told The Jerusalem Post that on April 5, 2003, he was walking in
Jenin with another ISM activist during a curfew when an IDF tank and APC
stopped in front of them and soldiers opened fire, shooting about 30
rounds at them. Avery was struck below the left eye; the bullet exited
his right cheek. He was blinded in one eye and cannot breathe from one
nostril, and his face is deformed.
The army has denied any involvement in the shooting. The commander of
the forces operating in Jenin found that only one army patrol that day
had included a tank and an APC. The patrol had been involved in four
shooting incidents that day, but none of them had occurred at the time
or place in which Avery was shot, and no one had been hurt in any of
Agence France Press
Feb. 28, 2005
Israel court orders army to reexamine shooting of US activist
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli supreme court ordered the army to reopen
an investigation into the shooting of a US peace activist in the
northern West Bank nearly two years ago, judicial sources and activists
Judges gave the military 90 days to interview six eyewitnesses to the
shooting after a petition was presented by activist Brian Avery, who
suffered severe facial disfigurement after being shot in the face by
troops operating in the town of Jenin.
Avery, who was working with the International Solidarity Movement when
he was shot, petitioned the court to order a criminal investigation into
the shooting, which occurred during clashes between Palestinian
stonethrowers and Israeli troops on April 5, 2003.
After a brief internal inquiry, the army concluded it had no knowledge
of the shooting and decided not to open an official investigation.
The ISM said six foreign activists had witnessed the shooting, but none
of them had been called to give testimony at the initial inquiry.
"The judges told the military attorney general to take oral testimony
from all the eyewitnesses then decide whether to stick by the army's
original decision not to pursue an inquiry into the shooting," ISM
founder and legal coordinator Neta Golan told AFP.
"The court gave them 90 days to interview all six witnesses. If they
decide not to pursue an inquiry, they will have to explain why," she
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a group of
pro-Palestinian activists who engage in non-violent action to protect
civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
ISM activists set themselves apart from other peace groups through their
direct-action methods, for which they have sometimes paid a heavy price.
US activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer
in southern Gaza in March 2003 and a month later British activist Tom
Hurndall was declared clinically dead after being shot in the same area.