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From the field

Void of Responsibility Sample Case: Soldiers killed Hassan Hamid, 17, in Tuku', Bethlehem District, on 13 Sept. ‘08. An investigation was not opened.

Testimonies given to B'Tselem indicate that, on Saturday, 13 September 2008, a few young persons from the village of Tekoa' threw stones at two army jeeps parked on the main road of the village. The confrontation was minor and the soldiers did not open fire.

Wafayef and Muhammad Hamid with a photo of their son Hassan. Photo: Noa Tal, B'Tselem, 31 Aug. 2010.
Wafayef and Muhammad Hamid with a photo of their son Hassan. Photo: Noa Tal, B'Tselem, 31 Aug. 2010./>

The eyewitness testimonies indicate that, about 2:30 P.M., Hassan Hamid, a high-school student, was on his way from afternoon prayers at the mosque. His cousin was with him. The street was empty. Near his house, the two separated, and his cousin continued on his way home. When his cousin had gone about 15 meters, Hamid called to him and asked him to wait for him. Hamid walked five meters toward his cousin and then an army jeep arrived from the main road. The cousin related to B'Tselem that he heard a shot and saw the jeep drive off. He rushed to Hamid and saw him lying on the road, bleeding from the chest. Hamid's two sisters came to the scene. People took him to a medical clinic in the village and from there to hospital in Beit Jala, where he was pronounced dead.

On 21 September 2008, B'Tselem wrote to the office of the Judge Advocate for Operational Matters, demanding that an MPIU investigation be opened in the matter. More than one year later, on 11 October 2009, Lt. Col. Mishal-Shehori, the Judge Advocate for Operational Matters, responded, indicating that the Judge Advocate General decided not to open an MPIU investigation.

An inquiry made with the relevant military officials indicated that, in the afternoon of the day of the incident, a military force entered the village of Tekoa' following stone throwing at a major traffic route, which injured two tourists from the United States. The objective of the force was to locate the stone throwers. While the force was engaged in its activity in the village, extremely violent disturbances broke out in a very narrow, winding alley. The disturbances included the throwing of cinder blocks from roofs of the houses, rocks, and iron bars at the force, whose way was blocked by boulders. Therefore, when the force encountered a situation that was liable to deteriorate to a life-threatening situation for the soldiers, the force reacted with a single shot that was not aimed at the persons causing the disturbances, so as not to endanger anybody.

The response ignores the suspicion that the soldiers acted with forbidden haste in selecting the direction to fire so as not to hit the persons causing the disturbance, without ensuring that the shot would not endanger bystanders. Since this hastiness led to the death of a person, a criminal investigation should have been opened.

B'Tselem sent another letter to Lt. Col. Mishal-Shehori, on 24 November 2009, demanding reconsideration of the decision. The letter pointed out that the response of the Judge Advocate for Operational Matters, like the findings of B'Tselem's inquiry, indicated Hamid was not taking part in any violent activity and that despite this, the soldier shot him with live ammunition. B'Tselem also noted that firing of live ammunition at a person in a non-life threatening situation breaches the Open-Fire Regulations. This fact alone warrants opening an investigation.

The letter remains unanswered as of Sept. 2010.