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JPost: State to compensate wounded activist

By Dan Izenberg

To view original article, published by The Jerusalem Post on the 19th November, click here

The state will pay human rights activist Brian Avery NIS 600,000 in damages in an out-of-court settlement reached Wednesday with his Israeli lawyer, Shlomo Lecker.

Avery, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was shot in Jenin on April 5, 2003 and suffered severe facial wounds. He has undergone at least six operations so far and has more to go.

“The sum does not reflect the injuries Avery suffered,” Lecker told The Jerusalem Post. “On the other hand, it’s one of the very few times the state has awarded damages to anyone hurt by the IDF during the Second Intifada.”

According to the description of events given by Avery and ISM volunteers who were with him, Avery and his flatmate, Jan Tobias Karrson, heard shooting near the apartment where they lived. They called other volunteers and went out to see if anyone needed medical help. By that time, it was dark and a curfew was in force.

According to their testimony, an IDF armored personnel carrier and a tank turned into the street and headed towards them. Avery was standing under a street light, wearing a red fluorescent jacket with the word “doctor” in English and Arabic on the front and back. He raised his hands to show the soldiers he was unarmed.

The vehicles continued to approach the group and the APC opened fire at a distance of a few dozen meters. Avery was hit in the face, his cheek was torn and his eye socket and jaw bones were smashed.

The army refused to order a military police investigation of the incident, claiming that a field probe had revealed that no soldiers on patrol in Jenin that night had reported an incident that resembled Avery’s description.

Avery petitioned the High Court to order the army to conduct a military police investigation. Before the court handed down a final decision, the army changed its mind and agreed to do so. The investigation began 15 months ago.

In the meantime, Avery also decided to sue the state for damages in a civil action in Jerusalem District Court. He and three other ISM volunteers who witnessed the incident came to testify at the first hearing in September 2007.

The out-of-court agreement reached Wednesday between the plaintiff and the state has put an end to the lawsuit. Lecker told the Post his client had agreed to accept the settlement because the military police investigation had already been underway for 15 months with no sign of an end. Furthermore, the courts, including the Supreme Court, routinely ruled in favor of the state in similar lawsuits involving Palestinians or foreigners so that “the chances of an appropriate decision were small.”

Lecker said Avery didn’t have full medical insurance coverage in the US and that the money the state was willing to pay would help defray some of the costs of the operations he must still undergo.