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Court orders IDF to reopen case of wounded U.S. activist [three stories]

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  • Joseph M. Hochstein
    Haaretz March 1, 2005 Court orders IDF to reopen case of wounded U.S. activist By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2005
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      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
      missing teeth.

      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
      the army."

      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.

      Jerusalem Post
      March 1, 2005
      State agrees to hear witnesses in shooting of ISM activist

      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.
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