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Israel closes probe into Palestinian activist killing

Sept. 11, 2013 10:16 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 14, 2013 8:14 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's army has decided to close an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian activist during a West Bank demonstration in 2009, an Israeli rights group said Tuesday.

According to B'Tselem, the military's prosecutor general had decided to close the case for lack of evidence.

Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 30, was struck in the chest by a tear-gas canister on April 17, 2009 at a protest in the village of Bilin, and died of his wounds.

Three video segments filmed during the protest prove that Abu Rahmah did not act violently and did not endanger the soldiers in any way, B'Tselem says.

Other soldiers in the same video can be seen firing tear-gas canisters directly at protestors in the presence of senior officers and in complete contravention of the open-fire regulations.

The army had decided to open an investigation into Abu Rahmeh's death in 2010 after a team of international experts found its forces had fired the tear gas in violation of regulations.

The non-governmental group Yesh Din, which took the case to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of Abu Rahmeh's family, deplored the decision to close the investigation.

"This decision is unacceptable, especially in light of international experts having determined that the tear gas was fired almost directly at Abu Rahmeh," it said in a statement.

"Despite three separate videos that recorded the killing of Bassem, the MP and police have failed to find the factors that caused the death of an unarmed demonstrator.

"The conduct of law enforcement bodies in this case is further proof of the feebleness of the authorities in cases of Palestinian casualties."

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