The killings of Nadim Siam Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank village of Beitunia were caught in the graphic security camera footage below, and by CNN’s cameras.
The wounding of a third child, Muhammad al-Azzeh, by live ammunition, was also captured on camera.
Israeli occupation forces vehemently denied that live ammunition had been used, a claim they finally acknowledged was false this week with the arrest of an occupation “Border Police” officer on suspicion of Nadim’s murder.“This is an opportunity for Israel to prove to the world that it is a nation where law prevails,” Nadim’s father, Siam, told Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine), which first published the video of the shootings and has been pursuing justice for the murdered children ever since.
“I hope the investigation into the soldier who is accused of killing my son will be carried out with the same gravity as when a Palestinian is accused of killing an Israeli citizen,” Siam Nuwara added.
Since the beginning of 2014, DCI-Palestine has documented ten child fatalities in the West Bank caused by live ammunition.
A number of Israeli and anti-Palestinian conspiracy theorists alleged that the videotaped shootings had been faked or manipulated by Palestinians to embarrass Israel. As +972 Magazine documents, these included Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon, Israeli army spokesperson Arye Shalicar, Israel Channel 2’s “military correspondent” Roni Daniel and Jonathan S. Tobin, editor of the US-based anti-Palestinian publication Commentary.
The “media watchdog” CAMERA published an article claiming: “The usual suspects are pushing the story and video of the alleged killings has gotten a huge number of hits on YouTube, but it’s pretty clear that something is amiss with the story the Palestinians have told the world about what happened at Betunia.”
Michael Oren, the CNN analyst and former Israeli ambassador to the US, also suggested in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the video contained many “inconsistencies” and might have been faked.
Will these propagandists and conspiracy theorists retract their statements in light of the murder indictment?
DCI-Palestine cautions on impunity
Here is DCI-Palestine’s full statement, in which it rightly cautions that despite the arrest, Israeli occupation forces have long enjoyed systematic immunity and impunity for attacks on, and killings of Palestinians.
Israeli police arrested on Tuesday a border policeman suspected of fatally shooting Nadim Nuwara, 17, six months ago near Ofer military prison in the West Bank city of Beitunia.
The border policeman, whose name has not been released, is alleged to have fired the live ammunition that killed Nuwara on 15 May 2014, following a demonstration to mark Nakba Day, and expressing solidarity with hunger striking prisoners held in administrative detention by Israel.
Video footage captured by a security camera and released by Defense for Children International–Palestine clearly shows that although Nuwara threw stones at an earlier point in the demonstration, he posed no immediate threat to Israeli soldiers’ lives at the moment he was shot. The border policeman’s commander was also arrested for allegedly knowing that the border policeman had shot Nuwara and failing to report the incident, according to Haaretz.
Despite initial claims from Israeli authorities that no live ammunition was fired by Israeli forces, an autopsy of Nadim Nuwara’s body, conducted on 11 June in the presence of both Israeli and international forensic pathologists, found that a live bullet was the cause of his death.
“This is an opportunity for Israel to prove to the world that it is a nation where law prevails,” Nadim’s father, Siam, told DCI-Palestine. “I hope the investigation into the soldier who is accused of killing my son will be carried out with the same gravity as when a Palestinian is accused of killing an Israeli citizen.”
Two other Palestinian teens were also shot by live ammunition while taking part in the same demonstration that day. Muhammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thahir, 16, was fatally shot in the chest and Muhammad Abdullah Hussein al-Azzeh, 15, sustained a gunshot injury to his back and left lung.
The US State Department urged the Israeli government to conduct a “prompt and transparent investigation.” Based on the footage collected by DCI-Palestine and other evidence, Amnesty International condemned the deliberate killing of the two boys as “evidence of willful killings by Israeli forces of Palestinians in the West Bank, which would amount to war crimes.”
“The recent arrest of an Israeli border policeman alleged to have fatally shot Nadim Nuwara is a positive development,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director, at DCI-Palestine. “However, past Israeli investigations into similar incidents have not inspired much confidence as they often lack transparency, independent review, and have rarely resulted in a soldier’s indictment.”
In March, Israeli forces shot and killed Yousef al-Shawamrah, 14, with live ammunition in the southern West Bank near his village of Deir al-Asal al-Fawqa. He was shot while looking for thistle in an area of land belonging to the village that now sits on the other side of Israel’s separation barrier. As he and two friends crossed through an open area, soldiers fired live ammunition toward the boys, hitting Yousef in the hip and back.
In July, chief Israeli military prosecutor, General Danny Efrni, closed the investigation into the killing of Yousef. No warning shots were fired, but the prosecution found that, “the force prepared for the operation professionally and acted in line with rules for opening fire.”
Since the beginning of 2014, DCI-Palestine has documented ten child fatalities in the West Bank caused by live ammunition. The Israeli military’s own regulations dictate that live ammunition may only be used “under circumstances of real mortal danger,” but the regulations are not enforced and frequently ignored by Israeli soldiers.
This “policy of impunity” has enabled Israeli soldiers to use excessive force without punishment. An Amnesty International report found that 41 Palestinians had been killed by live ammunition in the West Bank between 2011 and 2013 alone. The same report cited findings that between September 2000 and June 2013, only sixteen investigations ended in indictment of Israeli soldiers.
DCI-Palestine also spoke with Mahmoud Abu al-Thahir, Muhammad’s father, who sees the arrest of the policeman who fired live ammunition at his son and killed Nadim as a step toward accountability.
He calls on “the international bodies to monitor the court proceeding to ensure justice is served for their wrongful deaths.”
- Beitunia killings
- Nadim Siam Nuwara
- Siam Nuwara
- Muhammad Abu al-Thahir
- Muhammad al-Azzeh
- Defence for Children International-Palestine Section
- violence against children
- Israeli Border Police
- Michael Oren
- Jonathan Tobin
- Moshe Yaalon
- West Bank
- Deir al-Asal al-Fawqa
- Ayed Abu Eqtaish
- US State Department
- Ofer military prison
- Wolf Blitzer
- Yousef al-Shawamrah
- Danny Erfni
- Mahmoud Abu al-Thahir