Israeli Officer Indicted for Shooting at Palestinian 'For the Fun of It'

The incident at a West Bank checkpoint was caught on camera, but the victim has never come forward

A Border Police officer was indicted Wednesday for shooting a Palestinian man in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet.

According to the charge sheet, filed by the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit, the victim, who was stopped at a West Bank checkpoint, was walking away from the suspect when he was shot.

The Justice Ministry investigation concluded that the border policewoman shot the man, whose identity has never been determined and who never filed a complaint, “just for the fun of it” from a considerable distance. The incident at the Al-Zaim West Bank checkpoint outside of Jerusalem in May of last year was caught on video.

The border policewoman is charged with battery, which is punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, and with hasty and negligent handling of a weapon, punishable by up to three years in jail. She and two colleagues are also accused of obstruction of justice, for which they could get up to three years.

The Israel Police, of which the Border Police is part, issued a statement that it views the “unusual” incident “with great severity,” stressing the officer involved “ended her service immediately” after the shooting was ackowledged, and disciplinary action against other officers at the scene had been taken, including transferring some to other positions.

“This is an exceptional case that is not representative of the work of Border Police officers,” the statement said.

The defendant was serving in the Border Police as part of her mandatory military service and was transferred out of the Border Police following the incident.

According to the indictment, on May 25, 2018, the Palestinian was stopped and checked and was then released and allowed to leave. As he began walking away, with his hands over his head, the policewoman shot at his legs and hit him, after which he fell to the ground, the indictment says.

Following the incident, the border policewoman allegedly asked other security personnel at the area not to tell anyone what she had done.

After a criminal investigation was launched and a number of police officers were called in for questioning, she allegedly called one of them to ask her not to share what happened with anyone. The defendant also allegedly lied to Justice Ministry investigators about the whereabouts of her cellphone, which she is said to have asked colleagues to damage.

“The indictment reflects revulsion at the crimes that the defendant committed as a Border Police officer,” Hila Edelman and Shaked Dahan, lawyers at the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit, said in a statement. “The defendant abused her position, her status and her permission to carry a weapon, and trampled on the dignity of the victim, taking advantage of his weakness, just for the fun of it.”

Authorities learned of the incident while investigating a separate case involving the suspected beating a Palestinian, during which the video clip of the incident involving the border policewoman came to light. Investigators also learned of correspondence among security personnel boasting about the incident.

According to findings in the case, other Border Police officers came forward to identify her and turned over correspondence in which she allegedly admitted to the shooting.