Israeli Army Reopens Probe Into 2010 Wounding of Left-wing Activist

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A demonstration against the separation fence in Ni'lin in 2010.
A demonstration against the separation fence in Ni'lin in 2010.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

The military advocate-general is reopening an investigation into the wounding of a left-wing activist by a soldier at a demonstration 11 years ago.

The activist, Imad Rizka, claims the soldier shot a tear gas grenade at him directly at close range, causing him a serious head wound that required two operations.

The decision to reopen a closed case is unusual, particularly since the incident happened so many years ago. It was made after a petition was filed to the High Court of Justice, and a video documenting part of the incident was given to the military prosecutor.

Rizka, an Israeli citizen, was hurt while demonstrating in April 2010 at the village of Bil’in in the West Bank, to mark a year since Bassem Abu Rahma had been killed by a tear gas grenade fired directly at him. Two months after being wounded, the military prosecution announced it was investigating the complaint Rizka had filed. In 2015, the investigation was closed due to lack of evidence that open-fire regulations had been violated, and because there was no evidence that the shooter was a soldier. In December 2015, Rizka’s lawyers appealed, but the appeal was denied a year-and-a-half later.

The lawyers then filed an objection with the deputy state prosecutor, who in 2018 denied the objection. The reason was that although there was some evidence that could link a soldier to the incident, it was also possible that Rizka had been hit by a stone.

In 2019, attorney Michael Sfard and the Yesh Din organization petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that the soldier be charged. Attached to the petition was a video and a photo documenting the event. The video, taken by Bil’in resident Haitham Abu Rahma, shows Rizka falling on the ground, while in the photo, taken by Ido Madiks, one sees a soldier aiming and firing. During questioning, a soldier named Gavriel (his last name was not released) identified himself in the photo, but said he could not recall if had fired directly at anyone or not.

Rizka’s attorneys checked the time stamps on both the photo and the video, and while at first it seemed they’d been taken two hours apart, it turned out that the video camera’s clock had been off by two hours and that the video and the photo had actually been taken at the same time. In response to the petition, the prosecution said last week that the military advocate-general would reopen the investigation and that the original video and photo would be sent to be evaluated by experts.

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