20 June 2011: Officer indicted for ordering soldier to run over Palestinian who posed no danger

20 Jun 2011

According to Israeli media reports, the military prosecutor has filed an indictment against an army major for exceeding his authority in a manner that endangers human life and health and for unbecoming conduct. The indictment alleges that, during a routine military operation in the West Bank village of Kufr a-Dik in 2008, the officer ordered a soldier to run over a young Palestinian man who did not pose any danger to the force or to other civilians. The soldier drove the vehicle into the man, breaking his ribs, jaw, and teeth.

(Photo: Ma'an Naji after being run over. Taken by Raed Muqdi, B'Tselem, 19 Nov. '08.) 

Investigation into the incident began after Mahmud Ibrahim Naji, a resident of Kufr a-Dik, reported to B'Tselem that on 19 November 2008, an army vehicle had intentionally struck his son, Ma'an, who is mentally disabled. Naji related that, despite his  pleas, the soldiers had refused to summon an ambulance for his son. On 30 November 2008, B'Tselem wrote to the Military Advocate General’s Office, demanding an investigation into the father’s claims. A few days later, the Military Advocate for Operational Matters informed B'Tselem that a Military Police investigation into the matter had been opened. 

Although the investigation began two and a half years ago, the soldiers involved were located after a long delay, according to the media reports. As the suspected driver has meanwhile been discharged from the army, the MAG's Office claims that he cannot be prosecuted. 

מקום האירוע, בכפר א-דיכ. צילום: ראאיד מוקדי, בצלם,
The spot where the incident took place, in Kufr a-Dik. Photo by Raed Muqdi, B'Tselem, 19 Nov. '08.

An order to run over an innocent civilian is manifestly illegal. B'Tselem welcomes the indictment against the officer, which transmits an important message to army officers. However, the lengthy delay in filing the indictment has made it impossible, according to military officials, to prosecute the soldier who carried out the manifestly illegal order, freeing him of being held criminally responsible for his act and impairing transmission of a message to soldiers serving in theOccupied Territoriesthat such actions are forbidden.