Israeli Police Volunteer Gets Seven Months for Killing Unarmed Palestinian Laborer

David Arik Bibi Rubi fatally shot Antar Shibli al-Aqraa as he was fleeing Border Police volunteers searching a cemetery for Palestinians who were in Israel illegally

A court sentenced a Border Police volunteer to seven months in prison for killing a Palestinian in a cemetery in central Israel in 2013.

The Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court also ordered David Arik Bibi Rubi to pay the family 100,000 shekels ($28,000) in compensation as part of the court-approved plea bargain, under which Rubi was convicted of negligent homicide in the killing of Antar Shibli al-Aqraa at Petah Tikva's Yarkon Cemetery.

In November 2013, Rubi and two other Border Police volunteers were searching the cemetery for Palestinians who were in Israel illegally. During their search, they located 41 such Palestinians. The other two volunteers guarded them while Rubi continued searching.

Eventually, Rubi located al-Aqraa, who attempted to flee. Rubi yelled for him to stop and began chasing him. Akra eventually ran to the top of a pile of construction waste and bent down. Rubi, assuming that al-Aqraa meant to pick up something to throw at him, drew his pistol and shot him fatally.

Judge Michael Karshen said Rubi’s negligence “lay in the fact that, given the circumstances of the incident, he thought there was no more proportionate method of repelling the foreseen attack, instead choosing, as a first resort, to shoot the deceased in mid-body.” 

During his sentencing, Karshen noted that Yaakov Shabtai, a former Border Police commander who was in charge of the Sharon district in 2013, had testified to Rubi’s good character. Shabtai said Rubi “acted out of a sense of mission,” and that “the reaction time of a fighter in the field who is under real threat is near-zero.”

Nevertheless, Karshen wrote, Rubi’s action resulted in the death of “a young man, who admittedly entered Israel without permission, but did so solely to earn a living.” Moreover, this action entailed “a high level of negligence,” since he opened fire while Akra was running away from him, and during a routine patrol, rather than during an actual battle. This was “a significant violation of the rules of engagement,” Karshen stressed.

The left-wing human rights NGO Yesh Din condemned the sentencing, saying authorities "have proven once again that there is no importance to human life when it comes to Palestinians."

Yesh Din, which represents the family of al-Aqra, noted that the court highlighted a significant deviation from the rules of engagement and gross negligence, yet still cast a ridiculous penalty for the killing of a person who posed no danger.