Prosecuting Colonel for Manslaughter of Palestinian Youth
Today, March 10, 2019, ACR submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of Sami and Fatma Ali Kusabeh, the parents of the youth Muhammad Ali Kusabeh, demanding that the court order the Attorney General to file an indictment against Colonel Israel Shomer for the killing and abandonment of their son. In addition, ACRI requested an interim injunction against the appointment of Colonel Shomer as commander of the Nahal Brigade. In July 2015, while Shomer served as commander of the Binyamin Bridgade, 17-year-old Ali Kusabeh threw a rock at the window of Somer’s jeep as he drove near the Qalandiya checkpoint, and subsequently fled. Shomer exited the jeep, chased Ali Kusabeh, and shot him three times. He then approached the youth, who was lying bleeding on the ground, and then returned to his jeep and drove away with his soldiers without helping the injured youth or calling for medical assistance. Ali Kusabeh was later pronounced dead.
During his interrogation at the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID), Shomer gave two different and contradictory versions of the incident. At first, he said that he was ambushed in the jeep and that Ali Kusabeh was a danger even after he ran away because he held “something” in his hand. According to Shomer, then, he was acting on open-fire regulations that permit firing in order to harm during “special danger situations when there is real and immediate danger to life.” He also said that Ali Kusabeh stood face to face with him, and that he had fired in the direction of the youth’s knees. When he was asked how the youth was then injured on his upper body, Shomer responded that the youth must have bent over.
This version was contradicted by testimonies of other soldiers and by a video documenting the incident. After watching the video, Shomer changed his testimony and said that he fired at Ali Kusabeh when the youth had his back to him, and that the injury to his upper body was caused unintentionally, as the youth was running.
Shomer defined his actions as a “professional error” rather than negligence. This position was then adopted by the Military Advocate General. After the objection against the closing of the investigation file, the Army Chief of Staff decided to delay the promotion of Shomer, and ordered that he must fill the position of Colonel again before his future promotion to the Brigadier General would be considered. Following the delay of promotion, the Attorney General closed the objection without a criminal proceeding.
ACRI's petition states: "There is no reason to assume that the boy, while trying his best to escape, left the Colonel so helpless so that he was forced to act without the ability to exercise reasonable discretion." Argued in the petition, that "taking into account the high rank and position of Col. Shomer, his experience and the fact that he must serve as an example to his soldiers, the closing of a case that led to the death of a youth conveys a grave message of contempt for human life."
Regarding the decision to appoint Shomer as commander of the Nahal Brigade, the petition states that since commanding the Nahal Brigade is one of the most prestigious positions filled by sub-generals, this promotion is unreasonable in view of the heavy suspicions hanging over Shomer's head.