Jerusalem – Ouside a settlement north of Jerusalem about 14 months ago, high school junior David Boim was waiting for a bus when a gunman in a car shot and killed him.
His American-Israeli parents have been trying to bring the Palestinian killer to trial ever since. They say they have met much resistance — not from the Palestinian Authority, but from the Israeli government.
This week, the Boims’ case finally moved ahead — but only after they filed a lawsuit that led to an Israeli Supreme Court order Wednesday for Israel to start pressuring the Palestinians to hand over the suspect.
The government has three months to take its first steps.
The case, according to families of terror victims, is one of several instances in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has shown little or no initiative for pushing the Palestinian Authority to adhere to part of the Oslo peace deal: turning over suspects for trial in security cases involving Israelis.
The irony is that Netanyahu won election a year ago partly on the promise that he would be much tougher on Palestinian violations of the Oslo accord.
But families of terror victims — most of them Netanyahu supporters say the government is doing nothing for them.
“What is so aggravating is, this is a government we fought for,” Joyce Boim, David’s mother, said Thursday. “Our own government is not cooperating. We really think this is politically motivated, that the government doesn’t want to push the Palestinians on this.”
Government spokesman Moshe Fogel denied Thursday that there were political reasons for not requesting the transfer of the Boim murder suspect.
Fogel blamed bureaucracy.
“It’s not a reluctance on our part,” he said. “It has more to do with inefficiency. I admit there isn’t the sense of urgency because we don’t expect anything to come out of it. And it is true that the Boims had to go to the Supreme Court to push it forward.”
The Palestinian Authority has said that it won’t turn over suspects to Israeli officials, but instead will bring them before its own courts. The suspect in Boim’s murder, Amjad Hanawi, is believed to be in a Nablus jail, Israeli officials say.
“You can have a situation now when you can kill a Jew in the middle of Jerusalem, expect the Palestinian killer to be welcomed inside Palestinian Authority territory, and the Israeli government won’t do anything for you,” said David Bedein, a media analyst who is assisting the Boim family.
“It is part of the Oslo mentality: You can sacrifice the individual for the greater good of peace process,” Bedein said. “[But] this has never been a country that said if we lost a few people, it’s OK. The Talmud teaches us that he who has taken a human life has taken a universe.”
The Boim family moved to Jerusalem from the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1985. David Boim was 6 years old then, the fifth of seven children, who grew up to be the most outgoing of all his brothers and sisters.
On the day of his death, May 13, 1996, the 17-year-old was standing with three of his friends at a bus stop outside the Beit El settlement, about 10 miles north of Jerusalem and the Biblical site of Jacob’s ladder.
He had just finished a study session at the settlement, which is bordered by several Arab villages.
The shots were fired from a compact car at about 3 p.m. Two of his friends were wounded.
Last July, the chief military officer in the territories, Uzi Dayan, told the Boims that one of the suspected killers had been apprehended by Palestinian police.
On Oct. 8 last year, the Boims and several other families met Netanyahu to press for action. According to Bedein, Netanyahu told the families that once the Hebron troop withdrawal arrangement was complete, he would ask for the transfer of suspects. Fogel denied Thursday that Netanyahu linked the transfer to the Hebron pullout.
But another high government official said Thursday that there were some political concerns about the timing of the requests.
“It’s true that we didn’t want to turn that into a crisis at certain periods,” the official said. “We weren’t going to say in the middle of the Hebron negotiations, if you don’t honor this part of the agreement, it’s over.”
The Boims’ lawyer, Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, said the Israeli government now must act on the court order.
“This is a request from parents whose child was murdered,” she said. “Every family would like this basic request fulfilled, that the state work to indict the person who killed their child. If the murder was committed in Tel Aviv or Ashdod, the police would have arrested him immediately. Because the murderer was a Palestinian, there is a special law for him, and our government is not helping.”
John Donnelly is a Miami Herald Staff Writer