Haifa District Court Judge Yitzhak Cohen ordered on Thursday the state to compensate the family of an Israeli Arab woman who was killed in a car as the result of misbegotten IDF gunfire.

The verdict ruled that Sumayah Zidan, from the village of Yama in the center of the country, died as the result of the state's police activity.

The judge did not determine whether the soldiers who fired the shots acted negligently, or violated rules of engagement. Nonetheless, the court found cause to award compensation even in the absence of proof of IDF culpability; the compensation decision stemmed from considerations of justice, the judge indicated.

The court ordered the state to pay the family NIS 620,000; Zidan's mother is to receive an addition NIS 120,000 from the state. The state is also ordered to pay the Zidan family's legal fees, at a cost of NIS 175,000.

Zidan, 47, was shot on May 17, 2002, in the area of Tulkarm. According to the verdict, she died as the result of IDF bullets fired at a car in which she traveled, together with her mother and sister. The women were en route to visit relatives.

At the time of the shooting, a three-vehicle IDF convoy was on the road; the vehicle which transported Zidan was behind this convoy.

Soldier signaled

According to the sister who drove the car, at one point a soldier who was sitting in the final vehicle, an armored personnel carrier, signaled her to pass by the army vehicle on the right.

When she proceeded to pass the convoy, shots were fired at her car, the sister testified. She then heard her sister crying out after being shot.

The judge found testimony furnished by soldiers to be credible. The soldiers explained that when they were briefed before this incident, they were warned about a possible terror attack involving the use of a car bomb.

Their response when they saw a car passing by the convoy can be understood in light of this warning, the judge ruled.

The incident occurred during the course of state police activity designed to protect citizens of the state, the judge added. In a case when a life is lost as the result of the state's activity, activity undertaken for the public welfare, the state ought to bear responsibility for any damage caused, Judge Cohen opined.