What happened to Abir?
Abir Aramin was leaving school with her sister and two friends in the West Bank town of Anata on January 16th, 2007. She never made it home to her family. On this day a single shot was fired from the back of an Israeli Border Police jeep that was patrolling outside the gates of the Anata Girls’ School. Abir was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet and critically wounded. She was taken off life support after 3 days of struggling for her life. She was only 10 years old.
According to Abir’s attorney, Michael Sfard of Yesh Din, “Fourteen eye-witnesses and an independent autopsy report submitted by the renowned Israeli pathologist, Dr. Chen Kugel, demonstrate clearly that Abir was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the back of the head while running away.”
However, the Israeli State Attorney’s office closed the case citing lack of evidence. Appeal to reopen the case was denied; the State Attorney claimed she was hit by stones thrown at the time the jeep was leaving the village. But according to the soldier’s own reports, Abir was already at the hospital before the jeep had even left the village. A third and final appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice was presented on Oct. 14, 2009, and the High Court issued its decision on February 9th in favor of the family.
On August 16th, 2010 an Israeli civil court ruled in favor of the Aramin family, citing the Israeli government responsible for Abir’s death. According to the Independent, Jerusalem District Judge Orit Efal-Gabai declared unequivocally in open court: “Abir and her friends were walking down a street where there were no rock-throwers, therefore there was no reason to shoot in their direction.
“It is clear that Abir’s death, caused by a rubber bullet shot by border guards, was due to negligence…”
In the criminal case, on March 28, the Israeli State Prosecutor’s Office announced that it would reopen the investigation, however, following review, the Israeli State Prosecutor again announced to the High Court that there is not enough evidence to hold a trial.
The Israeli High Court of Justice's final decision was that the evidence was to old and dismissed the case.
Summary of the criminal case before the israeli high court
- We were notified by the attorneys from Yesh Din, the Israeli human rights organization, that:
“On February 9, 2010, the High Court of Justice in Israel ordered the State of Israel to reopen and complete the investigation [of the Abir Aramin case] and consider prosecution where appropriate. The State has been given 45 days within which to provide its position on the order, including any steps it has taken or plans to take to satisfy it, supported by sworn affidavits. Upon receiving the State’s response, the court will decide how to proceed with the petition.”
- In response to this, Israel’s State Prosecutor’s Office announced on March 28, 2010 that it would reopen the investigation the death of Abir Aramin. Evidence that was left out of the initial investigation, such as eyewitness testimony, will be included, with the Attorney General making a new recommendation following review of the evidence. Read more here.
This is a very important decision in favor of the Aramin family. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, 1315 Palestinian children have been killed since the year 2000. To our knowledge, only one case has been brought to justice. Abir Aramin’s case has the potential to set a precedent for holding accountable those involved in such deaths.
The Rebuilding Alliance brought the Aramin family, including Abir’s sister Areen, who was an eye-witness to the incident, and Israeli Combatant for Peace Yonatan Shapira, to the State Department to testify. As a result, an entry about Abir Aramin was included in the 2007, 2008, and the 2009 U.S. Human Rights Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories. Sadly, even though the perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice, the 2010 U.S. Human Rights Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories omits mention of the little girl’s case.