Border Policeman Gets One Year for Killing Palestinian in Jaffa

This is the first conviction of a police officer for killing an Arab inside Israel since at least 2000.

A border policeman was sentenced to one year in jail on Sunday for shooting and killing a Palestinian in Jaffa.

Tomer Avraham was convicted of manslaughter in the 2006 death of Ayad Abu-Raya, but the Tel Aviv District Court deemed that incident an accident.

"The accused did not seek to take a human life and did not gamble with human life ... he failed as a soldier doing his duty," Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik said in sentencing him.

The Police Investigations Department said it believed "the accused should be given a significant sentence, and therefore it would study the court's decision and consider its steps."

According to the verdict, on October 4, 2006 a Border Police squad in Jaffa found three Palestinians in Israel illegally, including Abu Raya and his brother, at a building site. The three were brought to a room at the site and beaten with batons.

They were told to sit facing the wall, with Avraham guarding them. He cocked his rifle and pointed it at Abu Raya's head, and carelessly pulled the trigger.

Avraham initially claimed the victim had tried to grab his weapon, but later admitted he had not been provoked.

In January, when Mudrik decided to convict Avraham of manslaughter rather than negligence, he stated Avraham had taken "an unreasonable risk in the unfounded hope that his behavior would not cause fatal consequences." Yesterday, sounding more conciliatory, Mudrik said the accused "is not a criminal or violent by nature," but that his "carelessness brought disaster on the victim and his family."

He also said Abu-Raya's family might be due compensation from the state, although "not from the accused, a conscript soldier who did not act with malice."

The victim's brother, Murad Abu-Raya, told Haaretz on Sunday by phone: "The policeman shot my brother in cold blood, and afterward they tried to bribe witnesses not to testify."

About a month after Abu-Raya was killed, his first son was born. Murad says the family is in dire economic straits, and that he has to support his mother, his family and his brother's family, but has been denied an Israeli work permit.