Monday, November 20, 2017

B’Tselem raises “grave suspicion” that soldiers intentionally killed 2 teenagers


By Claire Matsunami - May 22, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Ofer prison] [Nakba] [Israeli army]

Video footage released earlier this week documents the unprovoked killing by Israeli forces of two Palestinian teens on 15 May outside Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank city of Beitunia.  
 
The CCTV footage, obtained by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine), shows that neither Nadeem Siam Nowarah, 17, nor Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thair, 16, presented any direct threat to the nearby soldiers at the time of the shooting. 
 
The boys were participating in a demonstration outside of Ofer military prison to commemorate Nakba Day and to express solidarity with the over 120 Palestinian prisoners on open ended hunger strikes against their administrative detention by Israel. The demonstration, which reportedly began peacefully, turned violent after Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youth, according to The New York Times.
 
The footage shows the moment ( about 1:45 pm) at which Nadeem Nowarah was shot in the chest . The boy had come to the demonstration from school and was still wearing his backpack. The bullet entered his chest and came out through his lower back, puncturing his backpack, where his family later found the bullet.  It was very clearly live ammunition, a metal bullet flattened by impact and covered in blood.  The video footage shows no provocation for his shooting.
 
Siyam Nowarah, Nadeem’s father, told the Palestine Monitor that his son “always had a smile on his face.  He was only 17 but he seemed like a man, he was so grown up,” adding that Nadeem loved sports and was always lighting up the room. “He was beautiful in life, and now he is dead,” he said. 
 
16-year-old Mohammad Abu Thaher, from the village of Abu Shkheedim, northwest of Ramallah, was shot through the shoulder from the back.  The video footage shows Muhammad was shot in the back as he walked away from the demonstration.  
 
His father spoke with the Palestine Monitor about his son, describing him as a quiet, loving boy with a love for life and Palestine.  The day he died, Muhammad went to school and took a test, and after school went to al-Manara square in downtown Ramallah to watch the Nakba commemoration. Afterwards, he went to join the unplanned demonstration near Ofer Prison, where he was shot and killed at 2:58 pm. 
 
Mohammad was rushed to a hospital but died en route. His father says that he took part in the demonstration because of his love for Palestine and his dream for a homeland. “But the occupation, of course, doesn’t want a child to grow up, to have a dream, it wants to kill them,” he said.
 
He is adamant that those responsible for killing his son must be held accountable for their actions, saying that the occupation, and those who support it, “must remove its mask at once, and admit that its face is ugly, very ugly…. It claims civilization, democracy, civil society, humanity, but on the ground, its face is ugly. It kills children, it kills humanity, or at least, it supports those who kill children and humanity.”
 
Army says live ammunition wasn’t used, B’Tselem disagrees
 
The Israeli army maintains that they only used non-lethal crowd dispersal methods such as rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades to suppress the demonstration. Army spokespersons have explicitly said live ammunition was not used. 
 
“As part of our inquiry we have investigated whether there was live fire and we have not found that there was live fire,” Major Arye Shalicar told the Associated Foreign Press. 
 
Leading Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem launched an investigation into the killing of Nowarah and Abu Thaher, as well as the shooting of Muhammad Azzeh,15, who remains hospitalized after sustaining a gunshot wound in the back and left lung during the same demonstration. One other unidentified victim is included in the investigation.  In a press release put out on Tuesday, B’Tselem concluded via medical expertise that the injuries sustained by the victims “could not have been caused by rubber-coated metal bullets – especially not when fired at a relatively long range.” 
 
Therefore, the organization reported “strong evidence that live ammunition was used and that the fire hit the upper torsos of all four victims. The investigation compounded by security camera footage of the incident, indicate that the circumstances of the incident in no way justified use of live fire. These findings raise grave suspicion that the killing was willful.”  
 
Both the United States State Department and the UN Security Council are demanding an investigation into the shootings. "We look to the government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident, including whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Al Jazeera.
 
Mohammad Abu Thaher’s father said that despite the killing of his son, “humanity will continue, god willing peace will come, and the dream that my son, martyr Mohammad, son of Palestine, dreamed will continue”
 
 
 
Footage of the killing of Nadeem Nowarah (cameras 1+2):
 

 
 
 
 
Footage of the killing of Mohammad Salameh (cameras 1+2):
 

 

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