State rejects B'Tselem’s appeal against closing the settler assault file

18 Sep 2011

On 31 March 2011, the State Attorney's Office informed B'Tselem that it rejected B'Tselem’s appeal against closing the file on the assault of members of the Nawaja family, near the Susiya settlement in June 2008. The file was closed in June 2009, a year after the incident, on grounds of “offender unknown.” In explaining its decision, the State Attorney's Office stated that, “Study of the investigative material showed that the persons against whom the complaint was filed denied, under police questioning, any connection to the incident. There is insufficient evidence to indicate who committed the offense. The evidence in the file is insufficient to identify the perpetrator or even to reduce the list of suspects. . .”

To view more videos from the incident click here

In its appeal, B'Tselem demanded that the investigation be reopened and that the police perform basic investigative actions that had not been performed, including questioning the owner of the farm from which the assailants were suspected to have come, checking the record of cell-phone calls made by the suspects, and comparing the sticks that had been taken at the scene to those that were seized in a search of the storage room of the adjacent farm. Also, the police could have studied B'Tselem’s video footage of the assault to identify the perpetrators, even though their faces were covered. The identification could by based on bodily features, manner of walking, the clothes they wore, and so forth.

The police did not carry out elementary investigative actions and did not collect evidence that could have led to conviction of the perpetrators. Rather than criticize the police’s investigative failure and order the file to be reopened, the State Attorney's Office rejected B'Tselem’s appeal, basing its decision only on the minimal findings the police had made.

The authorities failed in their handling of the case at every stage. The assault of the Palestinians was brutal, as was evident from the video footage The failure to prosecute the offenders transmits a clear message that the authorities do not consider attacks on Palestinians sufficiently important to warrant effort to investigate them and bring the perpetrators to justice. This message is neither legal nor moral.