A verdict handed down by the High Court of Justice and released for publication Sunday instructs military police to open a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the death of Iman al-Hams, the 13-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed two years ago by IDF gunfire at the Girit military outpost in Gaza.
Following her death and reports that soldiers involved "confirmed the kill", Captain R. was arrested, but was cleared of responsibility for her death by the courts.
The al-Hams family demanded an investigation into the killing be launched, to determine whether the command to open fire was given illegally, and the High Court acquiesced to the request.
“My heart is plagued by the tough feeling the al-Hams’ death could have been prevented, if all elements involved had acted as necessary,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levi in the verdict.
Three judges presided over the hearing: Aharon Barak, Saleem Jubran and Edmond Levi.
The court directed the military police and the chief military prosecutor to investigate whether the command to open fire deviated from the IDF’s official regulations.
The petitioners – Iman’s parents and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel – requested the court examine the order to open fire. The hearing did not touch the issue of who killed the girl.
The High Court of Justice rejected however a petition that the soldiers involved in the killing be investigated for carrying out illegal orders.
In the verdict, the judges stated that Captain R. was acquitted. Over a year ago the Southern Command military court acquitted Captian R. of all guilt in the girl’s killing, declaring him innocent. In addition, the court ordered the IDF pay the officer NIS 82,000 in compensation for his defense expenses and days in prison.
“A number of questions remain which have still not been answered,” the judges said in their decision. “What caused the girl to walk towards the military base, in the opposite direction from her home and school…
"And how did the guards at the outpost gates err in believing that the girl presented a clear and present danger to their lives?” the judges questioned.
“The complex circumstances under which the IDF soldiers were operating in Gaza made operational judgment extremely crucial. This does not mean soldiers can act as they please. Judgment was not unlimited, but should have been in keeping with the normative framework,” they said.