IDF Failed to Investigate Why Soldier Killed Palestinian

Rashad Shwakha, 28, father of a 10-month-old girl, was fatally injured and died in a Jerusalem hospital six days later.

The Military Police has not investigated the death of a Palestinian who was shot some two weeks ago during a clash between IDF commandos and villagers in the West Bank, contrary to the military prosecution's instructions.

Commandos of the elite IDF Duvdevan unit entered the West Bank village of Rammun disguised as Arabs about two weeks ago. Three brothers of the Shwakha family heard a noise outside their house and confronted the commandos, fearing they were burglars, one brother said.

West Bank, IDF Soldier - AP archive - 28.10.03

"Due to frequent burglaries in the village everyone stays up to keep watch," Akram Shwakha told Haaretz. "I have a car and cattle. So when I heard a noise outside the house at 1 A.M. and saw two men outside, I thought they were out to steal something. I followed them and called my two brothers," he said.

The brothers asked the disguised commandos to identify themselves. In the confrontation that ensued a commando drew a gun, Rashad Shwakha stabbed him in the neck and the soldiers opened fire at them, Akram said.

Rashad, 28, father of a 10-month-old girl, was fatally injured and died in a Jerusalem hospital six days later. Akram and his brother, who were moderately and lightly injured respectively, were placed under guard in the hospital. The guard was removed three days later, they were not arrested and no military investigation into the incident was held.

The IDF promised the High Court last April, following a petition submitted by human rights groups, to investigate every instance in which IDF soldiers kill a Palestinian, as was the custom before the second intifada.

Rashad Shwakha is the seventh Palestinian killed by IDF fire since the defense forces' policy change. The military advocacy stipulates that killing a civilian requires an immediate criminal investigation, as well as an operative inquiry. However, the Chief Military Adjutant may suspend a criminal investigation if it is clear the incident took place "in combat."

"They didn't say they were from the police or army - they only said in Arabic that they know everyone in the village," Akram said.

The IDF spokesman said "preliminary examination of the incident indicated it was clearly a combat situation, in which a soldier was stabbed in the back and neck. Therefore it was decided not to open an immediate investigation. In any case, an operative inquiry will be held and the findings will be submitted to the Military Advocate General's office, as is customary."