Palestinian Families Petition the Supreme Court for Autopsy Reports


The families of four Palestinian citizens of Israel who were killed in October by Israeli security forces have petitioned the Supreme Court to obtain copies of the official autopsy reports.  Their petition, submitted today by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights and Physicians for Human Rights, was filed against the Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv and Mahash (the Ministry of Justice Police Investigation Unit).  Adalah’s General Director, Hassan Jabareen, who filed the petition, said that although the families have requested copies of the autopsy reports for four months, both the Forensic Institute and Mahash have refused to provide them with the documents.

The autopsies were conducted by the Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv.  The victims - Mohammed Ahmed Jabareen, 24; Ahmed Ibrahim Siyyam Jabareen, 18; Rami Khatem Ghara, 21; and Misleh Hussein Abu Jarad, 19 - were killed in Umm al-Fahem and Jatt between 1 - 2 October 2000.  The four men were among the 13 Palestinian citizens who were killed by Israeli security forces during the first week of October.  These four were the only individuals among the 13 killed who were autopsied.

Although the families repeatedly asked the Forensic Institute to provide them with copies of the autopsy reports, their requests were denied.  The Forensic Institute told the families that the reports had been given to Mahash.  However, when the families then requested the reports from Mahash, the investigative unit denied the request, stating that it had not been determined if an investigation would be conducted into the circumstances of the deaths.

In the petition, Mr. Jabareen argued that the refusal to give the families copies of the reports is illegal and a breach of their fundamental rights provided by the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom.  There is no law prohibiting disclosure of autopsy reports to family members. Furthermore, he argued that the refusal is against the public interest and the right to know the facts and circumstances of these suspicious killings. It clearly shows no consideration for family members who want to know the truth about the deaths.

These cases are among those which are being investigated by the Commission of Inquiry, established by the Israeli government on 8 November 2000 “to investigate the clashes, which involved security forces and Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel” during early October 2000.  The autopsy reports are necessary for the preparation of expert opinions by pathologists that the families seek to provide to the Commission, which is scheduled to begin hearings on 19 February 2001.