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US Citizen Shot by Israeli Forces Petitions Court

US Citizen Shot by Israeli Forces Petitions Supreme Court Demanding Criminal Investigation

On April 5, 2003 Brian Avery, along with another ISM activist, was standing under a street lamp on a quiet empty street in Jenin. Brian was wearing a high visibility medic vest with his hands in the air, clearly indicating he was an unarmed international when an APC approached at under 30kmph and without warning open heavy fire from a range of just tens of meters. After shooting Brian the perpetrators carried on driving. This was witnessed by four other activists from Sweden and Denmark who were in the vicinity.

On February 28, 2005 the Israeli Supreme Court will hear attorney Michael Sfard petitioning on Brain's behalf, demanding that the Israeli military authorities investigate the shooting. The following is taken from the appeal that was submitted to the court:

This petition is brought against the military judge advocate for refusing to open an inquiry into the wounding of Brian Avery despite the existence of substantial evidence that the injury was the result of criminal behavior by Israeli soldiers.

ISM activist Brian Avery traveled to Jenin in order to provide humanitarian assistance to its residents.

On April 5, 2003 he was wounded by a bullet that entered his face, shattering his jaw and his nose. Since the incident he has been in rehabilitation and is having an ongoing series of surgeries to reconstruct his face.

Eyewitnesses at the scene stated immediately afterward that soldiers opened fire in circumstances where they were not under threat.

The Israeli army conducted an internal command inquiry and concluded there was no evidence that Brian was hit by shots fired by Israeli soldiers.

THE INQUIRY DID NOT INCLUDE TESTIMONIES FROM THE EYEWITNESSES AND RELIED ENTIRELY ON THE TESTIMONIES OF ISRAELI SOLDIERS SERVING IN THE REGION.

All requests made on behalf of Brian for a police criminal investigation have received no response.

Internal command inquiries made by the Israeli army are not reliable. In several cases the inquiries absolved the army when subsequent military police investigations uncovered incriminating evidence and serious charges were brought.

This was the case in the killing of another activist, Tom Hurndall, who was fatally shot in Rafah six days after Brian's injury. The internal command inquiry ruled that Tom was shot because of the presence of a Palestinian militant in his vicinity. The criminal investigation of the military police discovered that the soldier who fired the fatal shot and another soldier had lied in the internal inquiry. Charges of killing and interfering with the investigative procedure were brought.

Similarly in the recent case of confirming the killing of the girl Iman Al Hams by the Israeli army unit commander an internal command inquiry by senior military officials absolved the commander who "confirmed the killing". Later a short investigation by the military police exposed that the unit commander lied in denying the allegations against him when they found that incriminating radio conversations had been taped.

Brian's request for a criminal investigation into his injury is the minimum requirement of a regime that claims to respect the rule of law and the sanctity of human life. The complete refusal to accede to this request brings into question the protection the military judge advocate affords to innocents civilians harmed by the illegal use of weapons.

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