Dad decries soft charge for Israeli accused in videotaped killing of son

Nadim Nuwara with his parents.

DCI-Palestine

“In my mind, this was a murder and the policeman should be facing a murder charge, with the possibility of receiving a life sentence,” said Siam Nuwara. “A Palestinian arrested under these circumstances would be facing murder charges, with the possibility of life imprisonment, and his family’s home would be demolished.”

Nuwara, speaking to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), was reacting to the news that Israeli authorities on Sunday charged a Border Police officer with the “manslaughter” of his son.

Israeli media have not reported the name of the suspect due to a “gag order.”

Nadim Nuwara, 17, was shot dead in cold blood on 15 May, when he presented no possible danger to anyone, in a killing caught by several cameras, in the occupied West Bank town of Beitunia.

The same day, at almost the same spot, another teen, Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, was fatally shot in almost exactly the same manner, and his killing too was captured on video.

Under Israeli law, a person responsible for an unlawful killing should face either murder or manslaughter charges. Murder requires that the killing be premeditated, and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of twenty years, but it can be as little as six months.

The manslaughter charge came just days after a forensic analysis of video and other evidence, commissioned by Defence for Children International–Palestine (DCI-Palestine), pinpointed an image of the Israeli gunman who shot Nuwara with live ammunition.

The analysis performed by the multidisciplinary UK-based research group Forensic Architecture suggests that the shooter fired a live bullet through a rubber-bullet extension on his rifle, possibly in a deliberate attempt to conceal his action.

That, and the fact that two boys were killed and a third injured with live ammunition, certainly provides grounds for reasonable suspicion of premeditation by someone.

“Lies and cover-up attempts”

“The prosecution of a member of the security forces for killing a Palestinian protester is an unusual occurrence, even though the use of live fire against Palestinian demonstrators has become almost routine in recent months,” Israel’s Haaretz noted in an editorial on the case today.

“In this case too, the defense establishment initially responded to the suspicions that were raised immediately after Nuwara’s death with lies and cover-up attempts,” the newspaper added.

Israeli authorities “were quick to claim that no live bullets had been fired in the incident, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon hurried to call the demonstration that day ‘a violent incident in which incendiary devices and stones were thrown at Border Policemen who felt their lives were in danger and acted accordingly. I know how these videos are edited,’” Haaretz stated.

“It must now be hoped that the court will prosecute to the full extent of the law the person who is accused of swapping out the plastic-tipped bullets in his rifle for a magazine with live bullets and shooting in the chest a teenager who was standing at a great distance from him and who posed no danger to him,” Haaretz said.

Unlikely to end impunity

But seasoned observers of the Israeli legal system are highly doubtful.

“It is unlikely that this case will alter a longstanding Israeli policy of offering impunity to Israeli soldiers and police who use lethal force on children,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director of DCI-Palestine said in a statement to IMEU.

“There is a bulk of evidence showing that Nadim was fatally shot with live ammunition while posing no threat to Israeli forces. It remains to be seen whether the individual responsible will receive a penalty that is consistent with the gravity of this act,” Abu Eqtaish added.

He noted that no one has yet been charged with the killing of Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, although Israeli media reported last week that the same border policeman is a suspect in that killing as well.

Since the start of 2014, DCI-Palestine states, Israeli forces have killed eight other children in the occupied West Bank with live ammunition. “None of their killers has been brought to justice and held accountable,” Abu Eqtaish said.

Indeed, it seems likely that the only reason any charges have been brought at all in this particular case is the high level of international publicity, due to the existence of so much video evidence, and the fact that the United States government issued a rare call for an investigation.

As The Electronic Intifada previously reported, the border policeman accused of killing Nadim Nuwara has been hailed as a hero by many Israelis, with more than 25,000 people “Liking” a Facebook page dedicated to backing him, and others turning up at the courthouse to rally in his support and call for death to Arabs.

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As African Americans and many others express shock over the judicial proceeding regarding Mike Brown , Palestinian people almost daily and hourly, endure the brutality of hate, racism, murder and other forms of oppression by Israel, supported by America.

This evil must end and will end for us all , as more decent people speak up against the injustices.

To the families of these two children, I wish to convey my deepest condolences, as the sane gives to the family of Mike Brown

Dr.Martin Luther King said that injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.

Palestine or Ferguson USA both suffer injustice.

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The response in Ferguson MO (USA) and the protests by Palestinians are
unique in many ways and so very similar in others.

In both cases there is a so-called "legal" decision in which the oppressed
have no chance (there is no "cross examination" in US grand jury
decisions). The Military control and so-called Israeli "justice" does not consider
the pleas of Palestinians, an "inferior" race which according to Israel
has to "right" to its land etc.

Those who protested the shooting of teen Michael Brown in the middle of
the US are also the oppressed. Said one: "I am a nurse. But I am a black
woman. I am a Mother of three but I am a black woman..." One could
almost hear Palestinian versions of these views filled with anger.

The "authorities" brought their arms and soldiers to control the anger
in the streets.

This writer has been involved in many protests of the racial status
quo. The younger generations impressed with a black President may
find this oppression new. It is not new.

As the song goes: "There is a hunting season on rabbits,
If you shoot you may go to jail.
But it is always open season on me..."
Singer Mavis Staples in "Down in Mississippi"

In Palestine it is always open season for the "chosen people" to
shoot Palestinians. It is more and more "lawful" (sarcasm).

So Michael Brown, aged 18 years, unarmed, was shot with 12 bullets as he
angrily rushed a white police officer. Shot until dead.

Aren't US police offers able to control unarmed youths without killing
them? Of course, if the officer was afraid as he claime ...he will not be "indicted".

The stories from Palestine are more often hidden except here in EI. The
death of Michael Brown was reported nationally in the US and those who felt
an injustice had been done were held culpable for their protest as
"unlawful" etc.

-----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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It is time that Europe as an entity recognised the fact that in many ways what is happening in the occupied territories is worse than what was happening in apartheid South Africa (for whom Israel was the closest ally) and imposed sanctions. The pusillanimous attitude of the British government is a particular disgrace when our history in the area is recalled. Personally I feel ashamed to be British.

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Democracy For The USA is not affiliated with the government of the United States of America and strongly condemns the government of the United States of America for its part in Israel's war crimes and human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Pursuant to the "Leahy Law" which forbids the U.S. government from supporting in any way a country that is committing human rights violations or that involved in ongoing war crimes, as is Israel, Democracy For The USA strongly urges the government of the United States of America to withdraw all military aid and any other form of support--economic, or otherwise--from the Jewish State of Israel immediately and continue to withhold such aid until the time that the State of Israel can show that it is no longer engaging in serious human rights violations and war crimes against the Palestinian people, specifically. Democracy For The USA urges all citizens of the United States of America to petition their government to follow its own law, specifically the "Leahy Law" and to forthwith disassociate itself from the State of Israel in all matters of economic and military aid and support. When this matter is brought to the attention of the President of the United States, and said officeholder fails to comport this nation's foreign policy with United States law, Democracy For The USA suggests this would be a situation where impeachment proceedings should be initiated.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.