Ben Yosef Livnat
Ben Yosef Livnatphoto used with permission of Livnat family

The Samaria military court acquitted today Nawaf Fahd Bani Oudeh the Palestinian Authority policeman who had been accused of murdering Jewish worshiper Ben Yosef Livnat at Joseph's tomb in 2011. Livnat was the nephew of former Knesset Minister Limor Livnat (Likud).

Five other people were wounded in the attack in which Livnat was killed. Three members of the PA Security Services were arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack at Joseph's tomb.

The PA policeman was convicted of the lesser charges of opening fire at a person and obstruction of justice.

According to the indictment, however, he was directly responsible for Livnat's death.

The indictment revealed that "the accused was at the complex [Joseph’s Tomb] in his role part of a patrol of the Palestinian National Security. With him were the commander of the patrol and other members of it … Around 5 A.M., the accused noticed Israeli vehicles making their way to the complex and entering it. The accused awakened the commander. In response, the commander fired his weapon in the air and ordered the accused and the members of the patrol to fire their weapons in the air. Shortly thereafter the Israeli vehicles began leaving the compound. …The accused and the members of the patrol ceased fire."

The indictment continued: "Meanwhile, the commander told the accused and the members of the patrol that he wanted the Israeli cars fired at to cause the death of the occupants. When the accused then left the compound … he saw a blue Israeli vehicle … he then shot at it from a distance of about seven meters. The shots penetrated the vehicle, struck Ben Yosef in the neck and caused his death.”

The judge presiding over the case, Col. Sharon Rivlin-Ahai, ruled that the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the shots fired were directly responsible for Livnat's death.

Col. Rivlin-Ahai said that she found that Oudeh intentionally fired at the vehicle in which Livnat and other passengers were driving, but that he did not know at the time that anyone had been injured or killed. She also found that discrepancies in the forensic evidence raised doubts that the bullets he fired were the ones that killed Livnat.

It is expected that Oudeh will be released from prison, despite being convicted on two charges, due to time already served.