Adalah petitions Israeli Supreme Court demanding immediate decision on appeal against closure of investigation of Jewish-Israeli suspects in May 2021 killing of Mussa Hassouna

The State Attorney's Office has still not responded to Adalah’s appeal, almost two years after it was filed. Adalah: At a time when Minister Ben Gvir is doubling efforts to arm thousands of Israeli-Jewish citizens, law enforcement is effectively green-lighting the killing of a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

Today, 8 January 2024, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the father and widow of the late Mussa Hassouna, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who was shot dead by armed Jewish-Israeli civilians in Lydd (Lod) during the 2021 May events. The petition urges the Court to instruct the Appeals Unit at the State Attorney’s Office to disclose its decision on the appeal submitted in April 2022. The appeal challenges the closure of the investigation against all five suspects involved in the shooting that killed Hassouna and injured two other Palestinian citizens of Israel on 10 May 2021. The petition, submitted by Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi, follows seven consecutive postponements by the State Attorney’s Office in releasing its decision.


    CLICK HERE to read the petition (Hebrew)

    HCJ 258/24 Malik Hassouna et al. v.  Appeals Unit at the State Attorney’s Office


Adalah filed the appeal to the State Attorney’s Office after discovering video footage and other materials in the investigation files, which suggests that prominent political leaders unlawfully pressured the police throughout the investigation. Adalah argued that these investigatory materials indicate that the police conducted a negligent, flawed investigation with the ultimate aim of clearing the suspects of any charges.


CLICK HERE to read more about the 2022 appeal, and click here to view a segment of the video footage with English subtitles that indicates unlawful intervention in the police investigation.


In conjunction with the appeal, on 28 April 2022, Adalah also sent a letter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara demanding the prompt initiation of a criminal investigation into the political interference in the case and suspicions of obstructing the investigative proceedings. As of now, this request also remains unanswered.


Under Israeli law, a decision on an appeal must be communicated to the complainant within six months. Nevertheless, the State Attorney’s Office may extend this period “for special reasons which shall be noted”. The Appeals Unit attributed the repeated delays in this case to a “heavy workload”. However, in multiple court rulings, this justification has been found inadequate to justify a postponement, which conflicts with the duties of an administrative authority.


In August 2023, the State Attorney's Office informed Adalah that the case was transferred to the Attorney General for her final decision, and efforts would be made to conclude its handling by the end of October. However, it then postponed this deadline again until 28 December 2023. Despite this extended deadline, the State Attorney's Office declared another, the seventh, postponement. It has now stated its intention to publish its decision on 28 March 2024, almost two years after the filing the appeal.


In the Supreme Court petition, Adalah argued that the State Attorney's Office's persistent delays in this matter are extremely unreasonable, particularly given that it involves an investigation into a murder with nationalistic motives. Adalah emphasized that there is a genuine concern that the prolonged delay in conducting necessary investigative steps will impede the ability to uncover the truth. The passage of time may lead to difficulties in presenting and collecting evidence, impacting the memory of witnesses and the credibility of their testimonies, and potentially leading to the loss of physical evidence. Adalah further argued that such conduct undermines the deterrent effect of law enforcement authorities and the judicial system, eroding the effectiveness of the criminal process and diminishing public trust in it.


Furthermore, Adalah highlighted that this conduct violates the rights of the Hassouna family under the law, which mandates that the authorities act within a reasonable timeframe and consider the needs and dignity of the victims of crime. Adalah argues that creating an expectation for the petitioners to receive a response and repeatedly postponing this decision without genuine justification or updates on the status of the appeal process constitutes a severe violation of the petitioners' dignity. Given the State Attorney’s failure to meet the requirement of reasonableness and its duty to act promptly and provide justifications for its decisions, the petitioners have requested an urgent hearing and the intervention of the Supreme Court.


Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi added:


“The State Attorney’s Office was presented with a series of egregious failures and deficiencies in the investigation of the nationalistically motivated murder of Mussa Hassouna that horrified the entire Palestinian society in Israel. The closure of the investigation file and the persistent delays in handling the appeal not only inflict unbearable harm on Hassouna's family, but also underscore a complete disregard for the value of Palestinian lives.This failure is deeply alarming especially as the far-right National Security Minister Ben Gvir persists in arming Jewish-Israeli citizens, while sending a clear message that they will not be held accountable for the killing and injuring of Palestinians. Beyond the genuine suspicion that external motives led to the closure of a negligent and flawed investigation, the State Attorney's Office's negligent conduct and persistent delays in handling the appeal strongly suggest that the pursuit of truth is not a primary consideration in its decision-making.”


Related Press Releases and Additional Resources:


Israeli State Attorney cleared all suspects in the killing of Mussa Hassouna during May 2021 violent events; Adalah seeks review of the investigatory materials Adalah, 30 November 2021


Adalah appeals prosecutor’s decision to close the investigation against all Jewish Israeli suspects in the killing of Mussa Hassouna in Lod during the May 2021 violent events  Adalah, 30 April 2022


Human Rights Watch, “Israel: Abusive Policing in Lod during May Hostilities: UN Commission of Inquiry should investigate apparently discriminatory practices,” December 2021

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