21 May 2014

Israel accused of unlawful killing as teenagers shot

Distressing CCTV footage of the fatal shooting of two Palestinian boys during a protest is released by a human rights group, which accuses troops of “unlawful killing”. Israel is investigating.

17-year-old Nadeem Siam Nawara, who was shot dead in Palestine.

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has dismissed the video footage of the incident in which 17-year-old Nadim Siyam Nawarah (pictured) and Muhammed Mahmoud Salameh died, telling the Jerusalem Post that it was “edited in a tendentious manner and does not reflect the level of violence that occurred at the disturbance.”

The footage, released by Defence for Children International (DCI), shows a two minutes taken from a six hour recording from a CCTV camera on a shop in the West Bank town of Beitunia. According to DCI the boys were participating in a protest near the Ofer military prison, but the video clips seem to show a lull in the violence as the shootings take place, over an hour apart. One is shot as his back is turned to the security forces.

Warning: the below footage is extremely distressing.

Initial military reaction was to deny that any live ammunition had been used by Israeli troops.

IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AP Television on 20 May: “Our preliminary investigation, both by the commanders in the field, and we had senior commanders in the field on the spot, indicates that no live fire was used during this demonstration.

“The investigation is ongoing. We’re continuing to review it and the military police are reviewing it as well.”

But the human rights organisation B’tselem, said it had obtained medical opinion on the entry and exit wounds confirming they were consistent with live fire rounds, and could not have been caused by rubber-coated metal bullets, especially when fired at long range as in this case.

The Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday: “This was a situation where there was threat to life, so the policemen operated accordingly. As for that edited film they’re promulgating? I’ve seen many edited films.

“I have not yet seen this clip, but I’m familiar with this method.”

Two other people were shot, a 15-year-old boy who is recovering in hospital and a 23-year-old who was only lightly injured.

B’tselem commented “The army’s open fire regulations clearely stipulate that live ammunition should not be used against stone-throwers, except in cases of immediate mortal danger.

“Security camera footage of the incident proves that at no stage were security forces endangered by any of the four victims, or by anyone close to them at the time of the shooting.”

The group said it would hand over the video to the military police investigations unit.

Excessive force?

On Tuesday US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki called on both sides to show restraing, and said “We look to the government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident.” She added that this should consider “whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators”.

Her words followed those of Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, who told AFP: “It is of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no threat.”