Probe of killings by police faulted by Israeli group

October 30, 1990|By Cox News Service

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli human rights organization accused a government commission yesterday of "extreme negligence" for failing to investigate thoroughly the use of live ammunition when Israeli police killed at least 19 Palestinians during a clash Oct. 8.

"The central question -- that of the opening of fire and the loss of human life -- remains uninvestigated," the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories said in its response to the government commission's report that was released Friday.

But the human rights group praised the government commission for "its bold conclusions" assailing police for failing to prevent or control the violence.

The group is known as B'tselem, which is Hebrew for "In the Image of."

B'tselem charged that the three-man panel conducted a skimpy and one-sided probe of the shootings that revealed "its distinct preference for the police version over other descriptions of the same events."

B'tselem reiterated its call for a legally empowered state commission of inquiry with subpoena power and headed by a judge to investigate the shootings.

B'tselem charged the government commission with making a "grave mistake" by not citing evidence and sources for its conclusions.

"Even sound decisions become suspect and unreliable, owing to the secretive dimension they acquire," the group said.

The government's investigating commission, appointed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and given a limited mandate, had no subpoena power to investigate the Temple Mount violence.

The government report blamed Palestinians for starting the violence and said police were justified in shooting to protect themselves and Jewish worshipers.

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