The investigation into the killing of Palestinian protester Mustafa Tamimi, who succumbed to a head wound caused by the firing of a tear gas canister at him by an IDF soldier, will be terminated. No conclusive evidence exists that the soldier acted in defiance of army guidelines, the IDF Military Advocate General unit announced Thursday.
Tamimi, 27, was hit in the head at point-blank range while attending a demonstration near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in December 2011. He was pronounced dead a short while later.
“The shooting took place in accordance with the relevant rules and guidelines, and there had been no offense in the [soldier's] conduct,” said a statement released by the IDF.
According to the advocate general, the soldier, who fired from within a military vehicle, responded to a barrage of stones thrown at him and at the adjacent road. Based on evidence extracted from a video taken at the site of the incident, the soldier, the prosecution asserted, did not have a clear view of Tamimi and did not aim to shoot the gas canister at the protester.
“Given the narrow opening in the jeep door and the movement of Tamimi near the jeep, the soldier did not see Tamimi, and in fact could not have seen him at all.”
The advocate general added that a full-scale investigation was unable to take place, as a reconstruction of the event was interrupted by the hurling of rocks at police investigators.
“A violent riot that included throwing stones at military police officials interrupted the execution of a reconstruction several times, and was stopped before it could be completed,” the statement read.
The prosecution concluded that in light of the lack of evidence, the soldier will not be indicted.
Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem was quick to condemn the decision, and said that closing the case would result in future casualties, as soldiers would be undeterred by firing at protesters.
“The decision demonstrates the disregard to the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, and the next casualty is only a matter of time,” an organization spokesperson said, according to Haaretz.
“We find it difficult to understand how firing from a moving jeep, in circumstances which could not ensure that no harm will result, can be considered legal.”
B’Tselem added that it would request the investigation files, in order to review the case.