Israel Police probe acquits police, dead teen’s friends to be charged

The decision comes a full year after police hit a car with Ahuvia Sandak inside during a high-speed chase, which apparently caused his death.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The attorney-general is expected to file charges this week against the four youths who were in a car hit by police in Samaria in December 2020 that killed the fifth teen in the vehicle, Ahuvia Sandak.

The State Attorney’s Office reportedly believes it has evidentiary basis to charge the four with “endangering human life in a transportation lane,” a Channel 12 report said Saturday. This would be much less severe than the involuntary manslaughter charges that the authorities had been contemplating in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

The five youths allegedly threw rocks at Palestinian cars on a road outside of Jerusalem, then fled in a car. The driver lost control when a police unit went after them at high speed and struck their vehicle, causing it to flip over several times.

While the other four escaped with light to moderate injuries, 16-year-old Sandak was crushed by the vehicle and died.

The youths charged that the police car rammed them deliberately, which caused the fatal accident. Police conducted an investigation, rather than having it done by to an outside, and presumably more objective, commission, resulting in several protests.

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Israeli law states that the police cannot investigate when they are suspected in the crime. Sandak’s family unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court in an attempt to halt the police investigation, as a report they had privately commissioned indicated that the youths were telling the truth rather than the police.

Two people were arrested during a protest in Jerusalem Thursday night after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit confirmed reports from as far back as last January that upon the recommendation of the Police Internal Investigations Department (PID) and the State Prosecutor’s Office, he will not be indicting any of the police officers involved in the high-speed chase.

In contrast to the protesters’ contention that the decision was a “whitewash” of the police, Mandelblit wrote that “there is no basis in the evidence for the allegation that the police officers deliberately sought to hit the fleeing vehicle.“

“It is not possible to determine which of the vehicles deviated and caused a collision during the [attempt to] bypass,” he wrote.

‘Parents should be worried’

Sandak’s family was infuriated by the decision, calling it “a moral, investigative and legal failure of the first order.”

“Judea and Samaria police officers killed our son, it has evidence in hand, contaminated the crime scene, gave false versions about the incident, versions that contradict the evidence and testimonies,” the family claimed.

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“Unfortunately, it turns out that the PID and the State Attorney and the attorney-general failed and prevented the truth from coming out.”

“Israeli citizens, and parents of children in the State of Israel, should be worried today, worried that a boy in Israel, who could be their son, could be killed in a meeting with a policeman, a policeman who decided he was the policeman, the judge and the executioner, and all this with the backup of the system,” they added.

The Sandaks’ lawyers, from the Honenu organization, announced that they would be filing an appeal with the State Attorney’s Office.

Charging that the policemen involved had obstructed the investigation and coordinated their testimonies, they added, “We intend to turn over every stone in order to have justice done in this painful episode.”