​US congresswoman calls for sanctions on Israeli unit behind killing of teens

Relatives mourn 16-year-old Muhammad Abu al-Thahir a day after he and 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara were shot dead by Israeli snipers on 15 May 2014.

Issam Rimawi APA images

For the second time in two months, a member of the US House of Representatives wrote a letter to the US State Department demanding concrete actions against Israel’s systematic violations of the rights of Palestinian children.

Released on 18 August by Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the letter calls for sanctions on the Israeli border police unit responsible for killing Palestinian teenagers Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir on 15 May 2014. The boys were shot at a Nakba Day protest near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia.

In June, McCollum penned a letter, co-signed by 18 other members of congress, slamming Israel’s “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of Palestinian children” in military detention as “an anomaly in the world” that demands US action. 

This second letter goes a step further. By calling for sanctions on the Israeli unit involved in the Nakba Day murders, it marks a daring move in a political space monopolized by Israel lobbying groups. 

Condemnation and action

The congresswoman’s letter highlighted the cold-blooded Nakba Day killings as demonstrative of Israel’s “brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanizes Palestinian children,” which “merits both condemnation and action by the US.”

“As these killings exemplify, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in the occupied West Bank is unacceptable and must not be tolerated by the US or the international community,” McCollum states. “It is time for a strong and unequivocal statement of US commitment to the human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

Nadim and Muhammad were gunned down an hour apart. The killings were captured on video, proving that neither teen posed a threat before being shot. 

Due to solid evidence and relentless agitation from Nadim’s family for criminal charges, the Israeli soldier who killed Nadim was indicted last October and is currently awaiting trial for manslaughter. 

On 6 August, Nadim’s father Siam Nuwara met with state department representatives and members of congress to demand justice for his son. 


Citing her meeting with Siam Nuwara, McCollum calls on the State Department to investigate whether the Nakba Day killings violate the Leahy Law, which prohibits the US State Department and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign security forces that commit flagrant human rights violations. 

“If a Leahy Law violation occurred,” asserts McCollum, “the 38th Company of the Israeli Border Police should be ineligible to receive future US military aid and training and all border police involved in this incident should be denied US visas as stipulated by the law.”

Shift in tone

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, applauded McCollum’s willingness to challenge the pro-Israel consensus in congress. 

“I think that letters like Representative McCollum’s represent a shift both in terms of the tone and the willingness to be public with these positions,” Ruebner said.

Ruebner attributed this shift to changing attitudes towards Israel among the Democratic base.

Public opinion polls demonstrate that Democratic support for Israel — particularly among women, people of color and young people — is trending down. A recent poll showed that nearly half of Democratic elites view Israel as a racist country, with nearly three-quarters agreeing that Israel has too much influence over US policy. 

“This phenomenon gives progressive Democrats in congress more of a political backbone to act on what I believe they know has always been the right thing to do,” said Ruebner, adding, “I think we’ll see this trajectory continue in the coming years.”




Finally, I had lost my faith in the US Congress. Israel must go back to the 1967 borders and HELP to build a free and viable Palestinian state , Israel must comply with international laws and the US should be the guarantor of this process.


As a Jewish US citizen opposed to the brutal Occupation, I agree. My "liberal " father cut ties with me, because of my beliefs, and his eyes almost popped out of his head, when I agreed with Obama (before his celebrity/political careee) that the Occupied area, should go back to pre-1967 borders.

I'm seriously considering a move to Rep. McCullum's district and based on this article, firmly believe that Israel is on it's last leg. Thanks :)

Jane Zacher
Philadelphia PA
Turtle Island


It may seem like a little bit. One letter. A few names. Have you
ever been to Minnesota? (I have but not much).

But one letter at a time.One letter!

"THE LEAHY LAW" (Sen. Vermont). What does this law say?
Where is a copy? Where is more background, its "legislative
history" (phrase used to indicate how it got to where it is,
what Congressional subcommittees, what votes etc.)

As usual, great work by R. Khalek.

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA


Are my reps and as I have posted before, ignore my emails pleading for them to do what Rep. McCullum has done. Casey replied once, with the standard parrot comment that US/Israeli security is intertwined. It was frustrating but after reading this great post, for me, it gives me hope, both as an American and human.
Thanks for this as well as this platform for me to read, learn and interact with other people who feel the same way.

Jane Zacher
Philadelphia PA
Turtle Island


The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a long-standing Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region.

The Middle East has been conditioned by outside forces into a powder keg that WILL explode with the right trigger, possibly the launching of Anglo-American and/or Israeli air raids against Iran and Syria. A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel.

NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan has been divided, all but in name. Animosity has been inseminated in the Levant, where a Palestinian civil war is being nurtured and divisions in Lebanon agitated. The Eastern Mediterranean has been successfully militarised by NATO. Syria and Iran continue to be demonised by the Western media, with a view to justifying a military agenda. In turn, the Western media has fed, on a daily basis, incorrect and biased notions that the populations of Iraq cannot co-exist and that the conflict is not a war of occupation but a “civil war” characterised by domestic strife between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of a carefully designed covert intelligence agenda.

Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a “divide and conquer strategy” which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specialises in Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs. He is

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.