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Israeli officer will not be prosecuted for extrajudicial killing of Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran Open in fullscreen

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Israeli officer will not be prosecuted for extrajudicial killing of Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran

Israel demonstrates once again the impunity of their forces in the occupied West Bank

Date of publication: 12 January, 2018

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The off-duty Israeli military officer, who shot at an unarmed car 'against regulations' killing a 15-year-old Palestinian and injuring four others, will not be prosecuted.
An off-duty Israeli soldier who shot "against regulations" killing Palestinian 15-year-old Mahmoud Badran in an alleged case of mistaken identity in June 2016 will be dismissed from the army but will not be prosecuted, it was reported on Friday by Haaretz.

The unnamed army officer will not be charged for negligent manslaughter, as he believed the Palestinian group he shot at were assailants fleeing from a terrorist incident.

He will instead be dismissed for "failures in conduct", it was reported.

The news of the officer's supposed in-culpability has provoked further anger in a controversial saga which has left many reeling, firstly over the excessive force used by the Israeli military against Palestinians, especially young and unarmed men and moreover, and secondly, the staggering impunity afforded to occupation soldiers who kill.

The extrajudicial killing occurred when Israeli troops opened fire at an unarmed car near the West Bank village of Beit Sira, carrying seven teenage friends driving home from an evening out at a water park. The shots killed 15-year-old Badran and wounded four of his teenage cousins. 

The officers, who were off-duty at the time and dressed in plain clothes, had believed that the group were responsible for an oil slick and rocks strewn on a nearby stretch of road. The soldiers were therefore under the impression that the Palestinian group were "terrorists", fleeing from the scene of the crime, according to the Military Police investigation carried out after the incident.

The investigation found "major failures" in the conduct of the soldiers at the scene, and that the officer in question had "contravened the laws of engagement" in the way he did, according to the results of the investigation published in Haaretz.

In the wake of the incident, military officials initially informed the press that the officers shot at "persons who had thrown stones and Molotov cocktails, spilled oil on the road and caused light injuries to Israeli passengers", according to a report by rights group B'tselem, "when in fact, the soldiers arbitrarily fired at the car, having no indication that any of its passengers had been involved in stone or Molotov cocktail throwing."

Testimonies from the injured Palestinian passengers confirm that they were fired on completely out of the blue.

"We came up to the underpass under the Road 443 bridge. Everything was normal and there was nothing suspicious. Suddenly we were under fire," reads a testimony by Mahmoud Badran's cousin Hadi Badran.

"I looked at the direction the fire was coming from and saw a white civilian car. There were two people there, in civilian clothing, and they were the ones shooting at us. There were a lot of shots."

B'tselem condemned the mishandling of the incident, calling it "a direct result of military policy which enables, despite the official prohibition in the open-fire regulations, to use deadly fire even in cases where there is no threat to life and even when the soldiers have other, non-lethal, means at their disposal."

The human rights organisation slammed the systemic over-use of violence by all levels of the Israeli military. "This policy is backed by the most senior ranking military and government officials who do nothing do change it, despite the lethal results," it stated in its report on the incident.

The impunity of Israeli forces who use excessive force has been a contentious issue over the past year. The highest profile case has been that of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who received a 14 month prison sentence in September 2017 for manslaughter after shooting 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head as he lay wounded on the ground, killing him. 

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