The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem won a victory over the army in Israel's Supreme court Wednesday when a stronger indictment was unanimously ordered against a commander who was complicit in the abuse of a Palestinian protester, Ashraf Abu Rahmeh, in July 2008, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The ruling is the latest installment in an ongoing clash between the Israeli court and the Israeli political right, who considers the court to be too liberal and activist. From CSM:
The ruling comes as right-wing allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are seeking to change the makeup of the court, considered one of the last governmental bastions of Israeli liberalism.
For the last two decades, Israel's high court has exercised what is seen on both sides of the political spectrum as judicial activism - roiling conservative lawmakers, the country's Orthodox Jewish rabbinic authorities, and the security authorities. It has come at a cost, drawing criticism that portrays the court as an ivory tower out of touch with the country's daily trials.
The charges against the military officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Omri Borberg, began when a video recording of the incident -- which involves a soldier shooting a bound and blindfolded Rahmeh in the foot with a rubber-coated bullet while Borberg stands idly by -- was sent to the human rights group B'Tselem. According to B'Tselem's website:
B'Tselem immediately published the footage and sent a copy to the Military Police Investigation Unit. The media reported that following the airing of the video, the army opened an investigation, and that the Judea and Samaria Division Commander had known about the incident but had taken no action in the matter.
The video may be viewed here.
The effect of Wednesday's ruling is that the trial will be postponed while the court weighs the possibility of stronger charges, according to Ynet. The victim protester told Ynet that, "I only hope that justice will be served. I don't really believe that it will. In the end, they judge what they want to judge and not according to what really happened."
And Ynet quotes Lt. Colonel's lawyer as saying, "At no point during the incident did the Lieutenant-Colonel ask that any kind of shooting at the detainee take place. He did not give out any order for such a shooting, did not watch the shooting, and certainly did not think that the soldier misunderstood his intentions."