Family petitions Israeli Supreme Court to halt police investigation into son’s death

Family’s lawyer says police aren’t investigating the evidence that officers were responsible for the accident by ramming the car the boy was in, causing it to flip over and kill him.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The family of a Jewish boy killed earlier this week during a high-speed police chase urgently petitioned the Supreme Court Wednesday night to forbid the police from investigating the case because there is good reason to think that the police themselves caused the accident that led to his death.

The police of the Judea and Samaria district had been racing after a car full of youths on Monday whom they suspected of throwing stones at Palestinian cars in Samaria. Ahuvia Sandak, 16, was killed when the car flipped over during the chase. The other young men were lightly to moderately injured.

“The suspicion against the police is that the death was caused directly by the police vehicle hitting the fleeing vehicle,” read the appeal in part. The petitioners, it said, have submitted “a complaint against the police for the offense of murder with indifference according to Clause 300a of the Punishments Law.”

Israeli law states that the police cannot investigate when they are suspected in the crime. In this case, they allegedly violated a court ruling from 2017 that forbids ramming a vehicle during a police chase that would cause the driver to lose control. The accident then being adjudicated also involved the Judea and Samaria police.

The petition was filed by attorney Menashe Yado for Honenu, a legal aid organization that defends soldiers and citizens who are targeted by police and the courts for ostensible crimes against Arabs, in order to “readdress proper standards of impartiality and fairness,” according to its website.

Yado added, “There is clear discrimination here – even as the youths are being interviewed under caution for the death, the police who caused it are not being investigated and the proceedings against them have still not begun.”

On Tuesday, MK Betzalel Smotrich of Yemina called from the Knesset floor for the officers who were allegedly involved in the deadly accident to be arrested.

“I’m afraid that there will be someone who will try to blur and whitewash [the event] and not get to the truth,” he said. “Such things have already happened.”

Smotrich had gone to the scene of the accident on Monday, where a policeman tried to physically block his way despite the fact that he legally could not do so to a legislator.

Demonstrators protested throughout the country Wednesday night over Sandak’s death. A few dozen were arrested, and many complained that the police treated them violently, especially in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.

News site HaKol HaYehudi reported Thursday that in the last two and a half years, Judea and Samaria district detectives have hit at least three more vehicles when trying to flag their drivers down. In two cases, the drivers were on scooters and flew off from the blow, luckily landing with only slight injuries. In August, the police hit a car not far from where Sandak was killed.

The report added that only last week the same force escaped a major collision by a hairsbreadth. Seeing a suspect driving in the opposing lane in Yitzhar, they allegedly suddenly cut across it to block the car’s path. The driver told Hakol HaYehudi that he had slammed on his brakes, coming to a stop inches from their vehicle.

“They had no signs of identification and no flashing lights, and only when they got out did I understand that they were police detectives. I was sure at first that it was a car that had gone out of control,” he said. “All this, to detain me for questioning on suspicion that I talked to someone that I was forbidden to due to an administrative order.”