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Press Release


Israeli High Court Legitimizes the Killing of Palestinian Civilians


Ref: 6/2001

Date: February 19, 2001

 While the killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces and settlers continues unabated, the Israeli High Court legitimized the killing of a Palestinian civilian yesterday when it decided to release a man convicted of a 1993 murder of a Palestinian who was under arrest and restrained in chains.  The Israeli High Court’s decision confirms the assertions of human rights organizations that the Israeli judiciary, particularly the High Court, has been transformed into a political instrument with decreasing relevance to matters of justice in cases related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

 The man released yesterday by the Israeli High Court, Yoram Skolnick, was convicted of murdering Mousa Abu Sabha near Suissa settlement in Hebron in 1993.  Skolnick shot Abu Sabha from behind after Sabha had been arrested and chained by Jewish settlers.  Skolnick was initially sentenced to life in prison, but former Israeli President Ezer Weitzman twice reduced his sentence, resulting in a prison term of only 11 years.  The Prison Authority’s Parole Board decided to release the convicted murderer after serving only seven and a half years of this 11-year prison term.  The Public Committee Against Torture submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court challenging the Parole Board’s decision.  Yesterday, in a four to three majority, the Israeli High court rejected the petition.

 PCHR condemns the Israeli High Court’s decision and considers it a step toward legitimizing the killing of Palestinian civilians.  This decision comes as Israeli forces and settlers continue to kill Palestinian citizens whose death toll now totals 340, including 13 who were killed by settlers.  This decision adds to the growing record of apartheid practiced by the Israeli judiciary against Palestinian citizens.  Under this system, killings of Palestinians by Jews receive mild sentences, whereas Palestinians receive severe penalties for charges far less serious than that of Skolnick.