Ashraf Abu Rahma, the Palestinian resident who was shot by the soldiers after they bounded and blindfolded him, filed a petition along with Israeli Human Rights groups; B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Yesh Din, against the Judge Advocate General's decision to prosecute the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, and the soldier who fired the shot, Staff Sgt. L, for “unbecoming conduct”, the High Court issued a decree nisi, forcing the Judge Advocate General to justify his decision, B’Tselem reported. The court also decided to suspend the military court until a decision is made on the petition.
The petition was written by attorneys Limor Yehuda and Dan Yakir of ACRI. The petitioners demanded the court to change the decision against the soldier due to the severity of the offense he carried out when he shot and wounded the bound detainee.
They stated that this act constitutes an abuse against a detainee in aggravated circumstances, and added that the punishment for such an offense is imprisonment for seven years.
“The petitioners strongly condemn the handling of the matter by the Judge Advocate General (JAG), arguing that the light offense chosen indicates a weak response by the JAG's Office: “It transmits to officers and other soldiers an extremely grave message of contempt for human life, and paves the way for future cases. . . It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a systemic defect is involved, one that has spread not only among IDF officers but also among those responsible for enforcing law and order in the army”. B’Tselem reported.
The petitioners said that with its light sentence against the soldier, the military prosecution is setting a dangerous precedent which could lead to similar shootings.
“The petitioners contend that the decision to file a light indictment is unreasonable in the extreme, this also in light of Borberg's senior rank”, B’Tselem added.
Yet, the decision actually transfers the commander from his position to another role in the corps but he will keep his rank as a lieutenant colonel, and will be able to get promoted in the future as the ruling does not hinder ay future promotion.
The petitioners also said that the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi showed leniency towards the officer who shot the bound detainee when he said that he “does not see any reason that would prevent the promotion of the commander in the future”, he also said that the commander will return to his position in the army.
The human rights groups said that the officer in question is also suspected of similar attacks and abuse against other detainees, which also could imply that he allowed similar abuse cases against other detainees.
The groups added that although the soldier understood that he was given an order to shoot the bound detainee, he should have used judgment as this order was unethical and illegal.