17 August 2022

Israel has agreed to pay two million shekels ($600,000) to a Palestinian boy who was shot in the eye in 2015 by occupation police officers following a long legal battle seeking compensation against police misconduct.

Finally, after nearly six years, Israel’s Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct decided to close the case with a rare compensation pay-out to Ismail Khalil because of what it called a “lack of public interest”.

Khalil, who was 15 years old at the time, was shot near his home in Shuafat refugee camp after hundreds of occupation police officers entered the area to provide security to a demolition team sent in to destroy the home of a Palestinian.

Khalil had been watching the demolition from near his home. He ran after shots were fired. During his flight, he was shot by a sponge-tipped bullet in the eye. He suffered terrible injuries. Doctors took out his left eye, while he underwent brain catheterization and several operations to repair damage to his skull, including the transplantation of a prosthetic section.

Three months after the shooting Khalil’s family filed a complaint to the Israeli police with no success. “After examining your complaint and the entirety of the material we have, and after seriously weighing the relevant circumstances of this incident, we’ve concluded that a criminal investigation is unwarranted, considering the lack of public interest in proceeding with this file,” said the unit investigating police misconduct.

Family’s lawyer attorney Shlomo Lecker also filed a civil suit against the state at the Magistrate’s Court in Haifa, arguing that the shooting was illegal and contrary to police directives on opening fire and that there was negligence, hastiness, or flippant conduct on the part of the police. Israel however dismissed the allegations and insisted that Khalil was to blame for his injury. Nevertheless, recently after prolonged discussions, the state agreed to a compromise, according to which Khalil’s family will receive 1.92 million shekels ($600,000) in compensation.

The sudden U-turn has come as a shock. According to Lecker, this is an exceptional case of compensation given to people injured by the Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem. Commenting on the difficult hurdles faced by Palestinians in seeking compensation for wrongful police action, the attorney was reported in Haaretz saying: “Even when they are innocent of any wrongdoing, even according to the state’s criteria, their path to receiving compensation is almost totally blocked.”

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