The Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers will open an investigation into the case of Luai Abed, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem who lost his eye after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by police.
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Abed, a resident of the Isawiyah neighborhood of Jerusalem, was shot in October 2015 while standing on the balcony of his home. After returning home from a shopping trip, he says, he went out onto his balcony having heard shouts outside when he was hit in the face by a sponge-tipped bullet.
He was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital. He subsequently lost his eye, and suffered fractures to his eye socket and his nose bones. Abed also suffers from ongoing medical problems as a result.
Abed filed a complaint with the investigations department, but last May his lawyer was informed of a decision not to open an investigation. Abed subsequently filed appeal with the State Prosecutor's Office, claiming that not even minimal attempts at investigation had been made. For example, none of the police officers involved were questioned, nor were two eyewitnesses who came forward on their own initiative to testify.
Last week, Deputy State Prosecutor Yehuda Shaffer ordered the department to open an investigation into the incident. However, Shaffer rejected Abed’s appeal to order a criminal investigation against the police officers involved due to a lack of evidential basis to support the claim that the shooting was illegal.
“In light of the injury to the appellant, and in order to complete the picture and with the agreement of the department, we have found it appropriate to return the case to the department in order to hold a preliminary examination of the incident that will relate to, among other things, the question of whether regulations were followed in the matter of the firing of the sponge[-tipped] bullet,” wrote the State Prosecutor’s Office to Abed’s lawyer, Itay Mack.