HCJ 2127/12 Nancy Anderson v The State of Israel

In March 2009, during the weekly protest in the Palestinian village of Nil’in, American activist Tristan Anderson was hit in the head by a tear gas grenade, which smashed his skull. Anderson survived, but suffered irreversible brain damage and is confined to a wheel chair and cannot function independently.

The DPI (Department of Police Investigations) opened an investigation into the circumstances of Anderson’s injury; after three months, the District Attorney announced the closing of the case, without detailing the grounds for its closure. Only in February 2010 did Yesh Din receive authorization to photocopy the investigation file in full.

Examination of the investigation file revealed a series of investigative failures. The investigation team did not visit the scene of the incident; as a result, the investigators questioned members of just one Border Police team although two teams operated in the field that day; the investigators confused Anderson’s injury with that of another protester; the investigators disregarded a statement by the Border Police company commander, who testified that he operated two teams and that they activated crowd control measures.

Yesh Din submitted an appeal due to the investigative failures and in June 2010, the State Attorney instructed to reopen the investigation. However, the investigators did not visit the scene of the incident this time either, and the only two investigative steps taken were viewing the video filmed minutes before Anderson was shot, and collecting a second testimony from the company commander, which contradicted his first testimony.

During the proceedings, a video was discovered that documents Border Policeman firing tear gas canisters from close range directly at civilians who were running away. Firing weapons directly at unarmed persons who are running away is in violation of the IDF and Border Police rules of engagement. Nevertheless, the State Attorney refused to reopen the investigation.

After the investigation was closed, Anderson’s parents petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) with Yesh Din to demand the investigation be reopened. The petition claimed that the investigation was neither professional nor thorough, and included severe negligence that prevented the truth from emerging. The petition noted the police’s baffling refusal to investigate the many civilians who witnessed the shooting firsthand.

In July 2013, following the HCJ’s recommendation, the police reopened the file and then closed it once again without issuing an indictment, on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence.

Petition Status: The petition was dismissed after the Court recommended reopening the investigation. Yesh Din reviewed the investigation file, and concluded that there would be no point in submitting a second appeal.