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Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales

The arrest appears to prove what footage and family indicated from the start: Live bullets were fired at protestors, unlawfully, as the victims posed no immediate threat.

Screenshot of CNN footage showing what appears to be a Border Police officer shooting at demonstrators in Beitunia on Nakba Day, May 15, 2014. In the video, a puff of smoke and shell can be seen coming from the third-to-left officer’s weapon.

Screenshot of CNN footage showing what appears to be a Border Police officer shooting at demonstrators in Beitunia on Nakba Day, May 15, 2014. In the video, a puff of smoke and shell can be seen coming from the third-to-left officer’s weapon.

A Border Police officer was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of shooting Nadim Syam Nuwara (17) with live ammunition, one of two Palestinian teenagers killed during Nakba Day protests in the West Bank village of Beitunia last May. The border policeman is being charged with murder and his commander is also facing charges for not reporting the incident.

The shootings, which were caught on film by CCTV cameras, showed that the protesters posed no immediate threat to the soldiers at the time they were shot. It was unclear whether the policeman was also implicated in the killing of Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, who was killed under nearly identical circumstances in the same place on the same day. The investigation into the incident is being conducted by a unit with the police force.

At the time, the IDF insisted that no live bullets were fired, and that it only used crowd dispersal methods (which in the West Bank, includes rubber bullets). Israeli military investigators even claimed that the shots may have been fired by the Palestinian side, rather than by Israeli troops. Some top Israeli officials even went as far as suggesting the video was forged or tendentiously edited.

Although technically part of the Israel Police, the Border Police is often deployed under the command of the IDF in the West Bank. Many Border Police officers are army conscripts.

But the head of the Ramallah emergency room that treated the youths, Dr. Samir Saliba, stated in his medical report at the time that the internal damage and the exit wound could have only been caused by live fire. An autopsy on Nawara’s body, requested by his family, also indicated live fire was used and CNN provided footage that showed a Border Police officer shooting at the exact moment Nawara was shot.

In the CNN video below, a puff of smoke can be seen coming from the weapon of the border policeman third to the left, and a shell can be seen flying from his rifle at minute mark 1:53-1:52.

B’tselem’s initial findings at the time led to the “grave suspicion that forces willfully killed” the two and injured two others.

Responding to news of the arrest on Wednesday, B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli told +972 that the authorities are now admitting they provided erroneous information at the time. “We demand an apology from all the politicians and reporters who slandered B’Tselem for providing information and sticking up for the truth from the start.”

The details of the investigation are still under gag order, but according to a report in Haaretz, all the soldiers and police officers investigated at the time denied using live fire.

What led to the arrest Tuesday was a bullet found in Nawara’s backpack, which led investigators to the gun it was fired from. It is unclear why it took six months to make the arrest, since the bullet was provided immediately after the shooting.

Related:
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
Details of Palestinian deaths jeopardize a system of denial

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    COMMENTS

    1. Pedro X

      If anything this shows that Israel is able to investigate allegations of wrong by members of its forces. It shows that Israeli democracy is alive and well.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brfuce Gould

        Are there democracies in which the human rights situation is bad?

        Reply to Comment
      • That’s really funny Pedro, you may have a future in standup after all.

        Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        PX: No, if anything this proves that the Israelis finally buckled under to US pressure to at least PRETEND to be interested in justice.

        Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X-Maybe democracy in Israel is alive, but it is hardly well. Even Sheldon Adelson is admitting it is on life support, and he doesn’t seem to care if it dies.

        http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.625542

        “At the conference, which also featured top Democratic funder Haim Saban, Adelson also said Israel would not be able to survive as a democracy: “So Israel won’t be a democratic state, so what?” he asked Saban, adding that democracy, after all, is not mentioned in the Torah, and recommended that the country build a “big wall” to protect itself, saying, “I would put up a big wall around my property.””

        Reply to Comment
      • Mariarosa Imberti

        Yes, Pedro, israel wiil “investigate” after video cameras expose the Lies, otherwise no crime happened.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      My guess is that this is an attempt by Israel at whitewashing some of its crimes in Gaza that were committed later in the summer. Hasbarists like Pedro here can be counted on to draw attention to this and away from Gaza.

      Won’t work though. Gaza and its more than 2100 dead and countless other victims will eventually get their justice.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        What country do you live in Danny?

        Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, right

          Probably not Gaza, seein’ as how he’s still alive ‘n’ all….

          Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      This arrest should have been made months ago.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bruce Gould

      Russia, Canada, France, Japan, U.S. and Israel are all democracies, but that doesn’t say anything at all about the state of human rights in these countries, the level of corruption, whether the laws are enforced selectively, etc.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Phil/Philos, “Adalah” is not a scientific source. Regardless (and I mean regardless), anyone one who is unhappy with the decisions of any branch of the Israeli government, may challenge said decisions in Israeli courts. This BTW is standard procedure in all Western countries. Israeli Judges are fiercely independent, are second to NONE in that regard and their proceedings are open. Is that too hard to understand? You are more than invited to attend and witness the proceedings yourself. Propaganda does you no good!

        Reply to Comment
    5. Philos

      It took six months so that everyone can get their new stories straight…

      Reply to Comment
    6. This was the same incident that the defense minster of Israel said was staged ” Pollywood”, becauae of the way the boys fell when hit by the bullet. Because they tried to break their fall by putting their arms out, they thought the whole incident was staged by the Palestinians. Wonder of the defense minster will retract his statement now and apologize.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Yeah, right! And it is the SAME Israel that has investigated the same incident, found probable cause that a crime may have been committed and arrested the suspect. That’s how a democratic country based on the Rule of Law operates. That’s how Israel operates. That’s Israel per excellence! The Israeli defense minister has NO jurisdiction re the investigation and prosecution of alleged crimes (and his right to HIS personal views as do you btw). So, acknowledge that and give Israel thumbs-up for once in your life. That’s a basic demand of fairness. Rushing to conclusions and demanding a lynch as do the Jihadis, +972mag and the hatemongers here is just barbaric.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ray

          Typical. No hanging your head in shame, no embarrassment for your hasty conclusions that “Pallywood” was definitely at work. Certainly no criticism of your government’s behavior, and the behavior of your security forces. Just wounded pride and a belligerent defense.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Oh no, sir. I am a proud Jewess! I am proud that in the Jewish State everyone has the Right to his/her own opinion and the Right to declare them publicly. Only in Israel does Arabs have such right in the entire Middle East and Muslim world. Did you know that? Israeli government officials have such rights as well – to say good things and stupid stuff (as do you btw). That’s the beauty of democracy. I am proud that in Israel only the prosecution authority has the right to make decisions in matters of criminal indictments and prosecutions. The prosecution authority can indict whomever (e.g. the PM, the DM, the President, etc.) if specific legal requirements are met. The Prosecution Authority is detached from the executive branch and takes no orders from anyone (except from the Courts). There is NOTHING to be ashamed of here.

            Reply to Comment
    7. GilGamesh

      “The arrest appears to prove what footage and family indicated from the start:”

      So now an arrest is proof of guilt? you have no business writing articles about human rights.

      Reply to Comment
      • GilGamesh, you do know what the word “appears” means, right? If not I suggest you take a remedial reading class.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          “arrest” is its widest imaginable meaning is not- and cannot be a proof of anything. It follows that “arrest” cannot “appear” to prove anything – plain and simple. It thus seems, Robin Messing, that you are able to speak English (which btw is your mother tongue and the ONLY language you speak) ONLY at a street level, but incapable of comprehending and appreciating academic subtleties and nuances expressed in the same language. That’s indicative of someone with an inferior education, no?

          Reply to Comment
        • GilGamesh

          I don’t need remedial reading Robin. It is you who needs a lesson in basic law. An arrest does not according to law make it “appear” that someone is guilty. That is why we have trials where the rule is presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Understand now?

          Reply to Comment
    8. Average American

      Israel uses Halaka (spelling?) law, the Jewish law from the Torah. Reading the Torah (or at least translations of it), it is very slippery. For example, Torah says the hirer should pay the worker promptly. Very upstanding, sounds noble. But then it goes on to say well, if the hirer was Jewish and the worker was non-Jewish, and the worker was so foolish as to not have made a payment agreement ahead of time with the hirer, then the Jewish hirer doesn’t really need to pay the non-Jewish worker promptly, nor pay him as much as he said he would, nor ever pay him at all.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Phil

      @Ginger Reich

      ” That’s how a democratic country based on the Rule of Law operates. That’s how Israel operates. That’s Israel per excellence!”

      Tell that to the family of Iman al-Hams, shot on the way home from school.. the local commander confirmed the kill by riddling her with bullets

      His punishment.. charged with illegal use of a weapon and conduct unbecoming.. this despite the fact that the tapes of the radio activity between him and his troops show he lied

      Watchtower
      ‘It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward’

      Operations room
      ‘Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?’

      Watchtower
      ‘A girl of about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death’

      Captain R (after killing the girl)
      ‘Anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed’

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        IDF-soldiers at the Gaza border are in a life or death situation. It is not a secret that Hamas-men sometimes use children to either plant bombs or test IDF-preparedness. Several IDF-soldiers have lost their lives in that manner. In the case you refer to, soldiers followed protocol to protect their lives, but that resulted to the heartbreaking tragedy that befell the young Iman al-Hams. May she rest in Eternal Peace. Very difficult stuff; nauseating! And she is not the only victim of the hyper vigilance at the Gaza border. Indeed, IDF-soldiers have on occasion mistaken their fellow soldiers as Hamas-men and shot them dead. My point is that the reason for the unfortunate death of young Iman al-Hams is not the one you present.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          The case of Iman al-Hams is also important for another reason: it proves you wrong. Contrary to your claim here and elsewhere, soldiers who commit crimes in Israel are indicted and prosecuted to the fullest (no cover-ups). If the Prosecution Authority does not prosecute, a petition may be filed with the Israeli Courts with a request to compel the Prosecution Authority to investigate and prosecute. If the petition is founded, the Court will grant the request and issue an Order compelling criminal investigation, indictment and prosecution. The case of Iman al-Hams is a perfect example of that, see http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3349472,00.html . The fact that the convict got less than what you expected, makes it no different;

          Reply to Comment
    10. phil

      Sadly, the case of Iman al-Hams proves me right.

      The first investigation exonerated the commander, taking at face value his statement that he shot into the ground and not at the child.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3748054.stm

      This is typically the end of most IDF investigations..

      However, some of his own subordinates leaked info to the press and the media latched onto it and the military were forced to have a second investigation

      Again he was acquitted,particularly after military witnesses recanted statements. The recantations were widely reported to have been as a result of pressure from the higher command

      Reply to Comment
      • Human Rights Watch: “Israeli military must account for killings of two children”

        “The Israel Defense Forces’ top judicial officer should demonstrate his resolve to combat impunity by immediately ordering thorough and effective criminal investigations into the latest shooting deaths of Palestinian children by Israeli forces during policing operations, Human Rights Watch said today.

        The Israeli military’s judge advocate general, Brigadier-General Avihai Mandelblit, in December told a gathering of Israeli nongovernmental organizations in Tel Aviv that the number of criminal investigations was increasing under his tenure, which began in July 2004. He asserted that the total number of criminal investigations since September 2000 had now reached 200.

        In June 2005, the judge advocate general’s office announced that it had opened only 131 criminal investigations into the unlawful death and injury of Palestinians at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces since the current intifada began in September 2000. During that same period, outside any combat situation, Israeli soldiers killed at least 1,722 Palestinians – more than one-third of whom were children – and injured thousands more, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. But since September 2000, the judge advocate general’s office has announced only 28 indictments and seven convictions of Israeli soldiers on charges related to unlawful killing or injury.

        “The Israeli military’s failure to conduct effective investigations into civilian killings has fostered impunity in its ranks,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Increasing the number of investigations is a step in the right direction and must continue, but the ultimate test is whether they bring wrongdoers to justice.”

        On January 23, Israeli soldiers shot a 13-year-old Palestinian boy in the back as he walked along a West Bank road reserved for Jewish settlers. The boy, Munadel Abu Aalia, from the nearby village of El-Mughayer (near Ramallah), died the same day. After first telling the press that the boy and his friends were planning to throw stones at settler cars, Israeli military officials then told journalists that the boys were planting an explosive device.

        The Israel Defense Forces’ allegation that the boy posed a threat should not preempt a criminal investigation since media accounts suggest that the incident occurred outside the context of any exchange of fire, he was shot in the back, he reportedly was far from any conceivable target when he was shot, and the incident occurred in broad daylight. The soldiers did not fire warning shots or attempt to question or arrest the boys first.

        In a second incident, soldiers patrolling Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on January 26 shot dead a 9-year-old Palestinian girl on the other side, not far from her home in Khan Younis. Gaza-based human rights organizations investigating the case found that Israeli forces had opened indiscriminate fire on Aya al-Astal without warning when they saw something moving near the border.

        Afterwards, the Israeli military contacted Palestinian security officials in Gaza to announce that their “soldiers shot and hit a terrorist.” The girl’s mother told the press, however, that her daughter was small, unveiled and should have been easily identifiable as a child. Her father said that she was mentally disabled and had become lost after wandering from the house. According to the girl’s family and paramedics, the girl was shot multiple times in the neck, leg, arm and stomach. The Israel Defense Forces have not accounted for the mistaken identity or their rules of engagement at the border, warranting an immediate criminal investigation.

        As noted above, both of these shooting deaths occurred outside the context of any armed conflict or exchange of fire. In such situations, even if the victim is engaged in criminal conduct, Israeli security forces should have been operating according to international law enforcement standards, which are governed by the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

        According to these international standards for policing, security forces should resort to the intentional use of lethal force only when it is “strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.” As noted above, eyewitness accounts and the pattern of lethal injuries on the two children indicate a serious breach of these standards.

        While the Israel Defense Forces immediately announced their intention to open a probe into the death of the boy, the military’s spokesperson was unable to tell Human Rights Watch whether they had opened a similar probe in the case of the girl. However, the media reported that an internal probe was launched in the girl’s case, and that the judge advocate general’s office had already found no fault in the judgment used by the unit commander and found that the shooting was carried out according to open fire regulations.

        However, the military’s spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that the inquiry into the boy’s death was an internal army probe, or “operational debrief.” In a report published in June, Human Rights Watch documented how these debriefs fall far short of international standards for criminal investigations, and fail to establish the truth and bring perpetrators to justice.

        First, the debriefs rely solely on the testimony of the implicated soldiers and are often carried out by the soldiers’ peers in the same unit. International standards dictate that investigators must be effectively independent from those implicated. The debriefs do not seek or consider testimony from victims or non-military witnesses, and do not attempt to reconcile discrepancies between the soldiers’ accounts and evidence presented by eyewitnesses, medical authorities or video. In the past, these debriefs have seriously delayed and impeded any criminal investigation.

        In addition, the Israeli government has failed to provide an effective remedy including fair and adequate compensation to victims of grave human rights violations. As Human Rights Watch outlined in a letter to members of the Israeli Knesset, the State Liability Law as amended by the Knesset in July now makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians injured by Israeli security forces to sue for compensation in Israeli courts.”

        Human Rights Watch
        Israel: Serious Violations in West Bank Operations

        Death, Destruction, and Massive Arrests
        July 3, 2014

        Israeli forces reportedly shot and killed Yusef Abu Zagher, 18, on June 30, during clashes with Palestinian residents in Jenin. An autopsy determined that Sakher Abu al-Hasan, 17, from the community of Hamamat al-Maleh in the Jordan Valley, died of a bullet wound on June 21, in unclear circumstances; initial news reports stated he had stepped on a land mine. As of June 23, Israeli forces had shot and injured an additional 21 Palestinians with live ammunition since June 12, including during clashes in refugee camps, according to UN OCHA figures.

        The Israeli military’s open fire regulations strictly limit the use of lethal force to life-threatening situations, as international law requires in such situations, but the record of Israeli forces shows that violating the regulations carries few penalties. Human Rights Watch has documented Israeli forces’ repeated use of excessive force, including unlawful lethal force, against Palestinians who did not pose an imminent lethal threat, most recently when Israeli forces fired live ammunition and killed two Palestinian boys on May 15.

        The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has documented at least 46 cases from 2005 to early 2013 in which Israeli forces killed Palestinians in the West Bank “by firing live ammunition at stone throwers.” Since September 2000, Israeli forces have killed more than 3,000 Palestinians who did not participate in hostilities, according to B’Tselem’s data. But the military justice system has convicted only six Israeli soldiers for unlawfully killing Palestinians, with the longest jail sentence seven-and-a-half months, according to Yesh Din, another rights group.
        Human Rights Watch has called for Palestine to seek access to the International Criminal Court to deter serious international crimes by all sides.”

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