Police said seeking to expel Palestinian who faces death sentence in West Bank

Cops accused of trying to circumvent Israeli court ruling that man be allowed to stay in country to protect his life, newspaper reports

Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The Israel Police are seeking to expel from the country a Palestinian man who was sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority, despite Israeli courts ruling that he cannot be removed due to the danger he faces, according to a report Monday.

The case led the Justice Ministry’s legal adviser to file a complaint against the head of police’s Prosecution Division, Dado Zamir, who had ordered the man deported in defiance of the court rulings, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

During the legal wrangling police claimed that the courts were sometimes not privy to information that they hold, and that they did not have the authority to rule on the matter, the report said.

The Palestinian man, identified in the report only by the name Awad, was said to have been given a death sentence by the PA for privately cooperating with Israeli security authorities. For 17 years he was permitted to stay in Israel because of the threat to his life. But last year a Defense Ministry committee assessed that there was no longer any threat to him and gave him six months to leave the country. According to the report, the decision was made in part because Awad was involved in criminal activity and on the basis of intelligence assessments.

Awad failed to leave and police filed an indictment against him for staying in the country without a permit, also asking that he be held until the end of proceedings. However, in January the Jaffa Magistrate’s Court ordered him released to house arrest and the Tel Aviv District Court later rejected a police appeal against that decision. Both courts found that Awad still faced a significant risk if he is expelled.

In response, police’s Zamir ordered that the indictment be withdrawn and that Awad be immediately expelled, prompting the Judicial Authority’s legal adviser to file a complaint with the Justice Ministry’s oversight commissioner Justice David Rozen.

Prosecution ombudsman retired Justice David Rozen attends a presentation of a report at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on March 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zamir claimed the court did not have authority to rule on the matter and said his decision to expel Awad was based on the Defense Ministry committee, which has access to information that the criminal courts do not, leaving them without “the full picture.” He also produced a letter from former acting state attorney Dan Eldad that backed him up.

Eldad wrote that the decision to pull the indictment and expel Awad immediately was “a correct and professional consideration.”

“As prosecutors, we are not always permitted to present all of our considerations to the court” due to aspects of a suspect’s rights or to preserve sources, noted Eldad, who left his post at the beginning of May.

Oversight commissioner Rozen rejected Zamir and Eldad’s explanations and determined that the complaint filed by the courts was justified, the report said.

Rozen found that once police filed an indictment against Awad they were required to obey the courts. He also concluded that if police did not agree with the court decision they should have asked it to reconsider its decision or filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. By canceling the indictment police were on the verge of trying to circumvent the court decision.

“That is not acceptable,” Rozen wrote.

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