Two dead boys – power of the camera
On the killing of Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir (age 15) and Nadim Nuwarah (age 17):
1) Videos from DCI-P, CNN, AP;
2) Ma’an: Two Palestinians shot dead at Nakba rally, May 15th;
3) LPHR: Lawyers’ charity urges FCO to press Israel to do thorough investigation, letter to Foreign Secretary Willim Hague, May 23rd;
4) CNN: Father blames Israeli military in Palestinian teens’ deaths, eye-witness report from Fakher Zayed, owner of the security cameras, May 22nd;
5) Ma’an news: Watch: Israeli forces kill 2 unarmed teenagers at Nakba rally , May 20/21;
6) Mondoweiss: New video shows Palestinian youths killed by Israeli army on Nakba Day posed no threat to soldiers, May 20th;
7) DCI-P: Watch: Israeli forces kill 2 unarmed teenagers at Nakba rally , May 20/21;
Nadim Nuwarah lies dying on the ground.
Video: the Defence of Children International – Palestine, here.
CNN video here
Video prompts look at killing of Palestinian teens , Interviews, note the (to Americans) British accent of the IDF spokesman, London-born and raised, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Two Palestinians shot dead at Nakba rally
By Ma’an news
May 15, 20, 2014
RAMALLAH — Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers Thursday during a protest rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba west of Ramallah in the central West Bank.
Medical sources identified the victims as 15-year-old Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir from the Ramallah-area village of Abu Shukheidim and 17-year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwarah from al-Mazraa al-Qibliyya village in Ramallah district.
The victims, according to medical sources, were shot by live ammunition in the chest. Their bodies were evacuated to Ramallah Medical Complex.
Medics said three teenagers were also injured by live bullets. One was struck in the chest, one in the foot, and one in the leg. Doctors say they are in stable condition.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return calls.
Protesters help Nadim Nuwarah after he was shot. Photo by Samer Nazzal
Participants in the rally near Ofer detention center said they also wanted to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held without trial who have been on hunger strike for 22 days.
Palestinians across the occupied territories and elsewhere were commemorating the Nakba, or catastrophe, of the founding of the State of Israel on Thursday.
During the Nakba, more than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number more than 5 million with their descendants — fled or were driven from their homes in 1948.
Letter from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights to the Right Hon William Hague MP, Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London SW1A 2AH
May 23, 2014
Dear Mr. Hague,
Re: Firing of live ammunition during a demonstration killing two Palestinian minors
As lawyers committed to the protection and promotion of Palestinian human rights, we urge the British government to insist that a rigorous investigation is carried out by Israeli authorities to determine the alleged criminal responsibility of Israeli soldiers and their commanders for shooting live ammunition at four Palestinians – three of them minors – which injured two, and killed Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16.
B’Tselem and Defence for Children International Palestine separate investigation findings
The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, and the Ramallah-based Defence for Children International Palestine have separately published its findings of their investigation of the shooting of four Palestinians with live ammunition in the West Bank town of Bitunya, close to Ofer Prison, during a demonstration marking Nakba Day on Thursday 15 May 2014. Their investigations’ findings corroborate each other and to avoid repetition in the following we shall rely on the findings of B’Tselem.
B’Tselem’s investigation outlines that two Palestinians, both minors, died of their wounds: Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, from the village of al-Mazra’ah al-Qibliyah, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, from Ramallah. Muhammad ‘Azzah, 15, also a minor, was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit in Ramallah, where he is recovering from his wounds. The fourth victim, a 23-year-old who wished to remain unnamed, was lightly injured. All four were injured in the upper torso: Nawarah and ‘Azzah were struck in the chest, Odeh was struck in the back, and the fourth man was struck below his left elbow.
B’Tselem’s investigation includes publication of video footage from two opposing cameras, depicting the moments of the killing of the minors. LPHR shares B’Tselem’s analysis that the security camera footage of the incident:
proves that at no stage were security forces endangered by any of the four victims, or by anyone close to them at the time of the shooting. The footage shows Nadeem Nawara being shot while walking along a street towards the area where Palestinian youngsters were clashing with army forces, and Mohammad Odeh with his back turned in the direction of the security forces that shot him.’
B’Tselem’s investigation also includes the acquisition of medical opinions regarding the entry and exit wounds found in the bodies of all four victims. These medical opinions are:
‘completely consistent with injuries caused by live fire and could not have been caused by rubber-coated metal bullets – especially not when fired at a relatively long range, as was the case here. Also, eyewitness accounts described the sound of live gunfire, which sounds different from rubber-coated bullet fire.’
Conflict with Israeli military authorities version of shooting incident
B’Tselem notes that according to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Spokesperson, the army forces operating in the area that day had used only crowd control means, and not live ammunition.
The IDF version of the shooting incident is strongly contradicted by B’Tselem’s investigation finding of ‘strong evidence that live ammunition was used and that the fire hit the upper torsos of all four victims.’ B’Tselem further states that the 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 wilful.’
Israeli military open-fire regulations
B’Tselem and Defence for Children International Palestine affirms that the Israeli military’s open-fire regulations prohibit opening live fire against stone-throwers, except in cases of immediate mortal danger.
Imperative need for legal accountability
B’Tselem states they will transfer all the material at its disposal to the Military Police Investigations Unit, demanding an investigation not only into the soldiers’ conduct in the incident, but also into the responsibility of senior officers who were present at the scene for the killing of civilians by lethal force.
The executive director of Defence for Children International Palestine, Rifat Kassis, has stated in response to the incident that:
‘Israeli forces continue to use excessive force and recklessly fire live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets on unarmed protesters, including children, killing them with impunity. While Israel claims to open investigations into such incidents, they are not transparent or independent, and seldom result in a soldier being held accountable.’
LPHR reiterates the above statements and urges the British government to undertake dialogue with the Israeli government on this horrific incident and insist upon the following:
1. Israel’s military investigation process is thorough, credible and transparent; and
2. Justice and legal accountability is secured should the thorough, credible and transparent Israeli military investigation determine that members of Israeli military forces are criminally responsible for the killings of Nadeem Siam Nawara, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, and for the injuries to Muhammad ‘Azzah, and the unnamed fourth victim.
LPHR view these outcomes as imperative for the following reasons:
1. To achieve justice and legal accountability for the apparent wholly unnecessary use of live ammunition resulting in the tragic killing of two Palestinian minors and injury to two other Palestinians (including one minor);
2. To send a powerful and clear deterrent message to Israeli security forces that a breach of the prohibition on the use of live ammunition against Palestinian civilians posing no threat to them will in practice lead to the just imposition of individual criminal responsibility; and
3. To uphold the rule of law and diminish the ongoing threat of further grave violations of the human rights of Palestinians.
We shall be grateful for your intervention on this urgent matter.
Director, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
By Ivan Watson, Kareem Khadder and Mike Schwartz, CNN
May 22, 2014
Beitunya, West Bank — Fakher Zayed is accustomed to trouble erupting on his doorstep.
For the past several years, Palestinian protesters have often clashed with Israeli security forces in front of his house. The four-story building stands on the edge of the West Bank village of Beitunya, within sight of the Israeli separation barrier and Ofer prison.
At first, the May 15 anniversary of the “Nakba,” the exodus of more than 700,000 Palestinians after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, looked like just another day of Israeli-Palestinian skirmishing.
“(The Palestinians) were throwing stones, and the (Israeli) soldiers throw the tear gas. Plastic bullets,” Zayed said. “They run away. After three or four minutes, they came back to throw stones again.”
To protect his home, his family and his carpentry business, Zayed installed more than half a dozen security cameras around his building, which operate 24 hours a day.
Last Thursday, these cameras captured the chilling shooting deaths of two Palestinian teenagers. According to six hours of raw, unedited video distributed by the children’s rights advocacy organization Defense for Children International and reviewed by CNN, the two boys — ages 17 and 16 — were shot on the same patch of asphalt on the same day, the second victim 73 minutes after the first.
The families of the boys, as well as Zayed, blame the Israeli military for the killings.
“This is the first time they’re shooting to kill here,” Zayed said, speaking to CNN while standing on the exact spot outside his home where the two boys were filmed being shot.
But an Israeli military spokesman say its forces fired no live rounds during hours of clashes on May 15.
“During that demonstration that was extremely violent, the Israeli Defense Force used crowd-control methods and riot-dispersal means to prevent and control the overflow of the violence,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN.
“The preliminary IDF inquiry indicates that no live fire was shot at all on Thursday during the riots in Beitunya, and we have to determine what caused this result,” Lerner added.
Security camera footage
CNN producer Kareem Khadder was filming the clashes in Beitunya on May 15.
Several dozen Palestinian youths used the wall of Zayed’s house as cover. Periodically, they jumped out to hurl stones at about a half-dozen Israeli soldiers and border police officers standing on a hilltop perhaps 100 meters away. The Israeli forces responded with volleys of tear gas while periodically firing rubber-coated bullets from their rifles.
At one point, Khadder filmed a Palestinian teenager who appeared to be struck in the leg with one of these semi-lethal rounds. The boy hopped and limped for a few seconds in obvious pain but then turned around and rejoined the clashes.
At 1:45 p.m. May 15, Zayed’s security camera caught the moment when one of the stone-throwing boys was mortally wounded.
Seventeen-year-old Nadeem Nouwarah was dressed in a sleeveless black t-shirt, wearing a black and white kefiyeh scarf to cover his face and carrying a backpack over both shoulders. As he walked toward the Israeli military positions in front of Zayed’s door, Nouwarah suddenly fell forward, landing briefly on his hands, before rolling over to lie on his back.
Within seconds, a crowd of Palestinians gathered to lift Nouwarah and rush him to a waiting ambulance. According to a medical report, Nouwarah was pronounced dead in a hospital less than two hours later, having suffered a single bullet wound that entered his chest and passed out his back.
Though Khadder didn’t know it at the time, he was filming two Israeli security troops firing their rifles at the Palestinian protesters at the same exact moment when Nouwarah was shot. In the video, it is not clear what kind of rounds the Israelis were shooting or whether their gunfire hit Nouwarah. However, Khadder’s camera shows that less than 15 seconds after one of these gunshots, Palestinians were already racing to put the fatally wounded Nouwarah in the ambulance.
Suffering the effects of tear gas, Khadder soon left the protest. He was unaware that Nouwarah’s wounds were fatal.
At 2:58 p.m., the security cameras filmed a second fatal shooting. Sixteen-year-old Mohammad Odeh Salameh was at the front lines of the protest, wearing a green Hamas flag as a cape as well as a green Hamas headband over his black mask.
As he was walking away from the Israeli positions, he suddenly fell to the ground and struggled briefly to get up. The boy was shot just a few steps from where Nouwarah had been wounded.
Doctors pronounced Salameh dead on arrival at the hospital, with a bullet wound that had pierced his back and exited his chest.
School in mourning
At St. George’s school in Ramallah, relatives and classmates of the first victim, Nouwarah, were in mourning this week. Students wore black t-shirts with photos of the smiling boy. The eleventh-grader was pictured wearing a backward baseball cap.
“There were 21 students in our grade,” said his 16-year-old classmate George Yousef. “Now, we are 20.”
Nouwarah’s father, Siam, told CNN he had expressly instructed his eldest son not to attend the Nakba protests.
“Afterwards, I felt he was not convinced with what I told him,” said Siam, who works as a hairdresser in Ramallah.
Nouwarah appeared to have gone to the anti-Israel protests directly from school on the afternoon of May 15. His father showed CNN the bloody backpack his son was wearing when he was shot.
There was a small hole in the bag, in roughly the same location where the bullet would have exited Nouwarah’s body.
Siam Nouwarah then pulled a packet of bloodstained papers out of the bag. They were photocopies of a textbook that included the writings of Anton Chekhov, accompanied by a teenage student’s handwriting, doodles and class notes.
“We were surprised when we took the school backpack back from the hospital to find this bullet inside,” said the elder Nouwarah. He then pulled a small used bullet stored in a plastic bag out of the backpack.
The metal slug appeared to be from a 556 NATO round, the standard ammunition used in M-16 rifles carried by Israeli security forces. It was impossible for CNN to confirm the authenticity of the bullet.
Siam Nouwarah said he was saving it for a forensic examination. He accuses Israeli soldiers of killing his son.
“The entire world should understand and know that my son was wearing a school backpack and leaving school when he was assassinated in cold blood,” the grieving father said.
On Thursday, Lerner, the Israeli military spokesman, told CNN that a request had been put in with the Palestinian Authority to do a ballistic report on the bullet found in Nouwarah’s backpack.
“That round that was presented shouldn’t have been in the bag, so it also raises a question,” he said. Lerner repeated the military’s assertion that Israeli security forces fired only rubber-coated bullets — which are not designed to penetrate bodies — in Beitunya on May 15.
Regarding the CNN video of the Israeli security forces firing rifles at the Palestinian demonstrators at the moment when Nouwarah was shot, Lerner said the weapons being used had an attachment at the end of the barrel for firing rubber-coated projectiles.
Asked whether there could been some malfunction or mistake that would have led to the firing of a lethal round rather than a rubber-coated projectile, Lerner said, “I’m not aware of any malfunction at this time.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has joined several human rights groups calling for an investigation into the deadly incident.
“I am deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding the recent death of two Palestinian minors,” wrote Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations in the West Bank.
According to initial reports, Gunness added, both boys appeared “unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat.”
A screenshot from the video footage.(MaanImages/DCI)
By Ma’an news
May 20/21, 2014
BETHLEHEM– A Palestinian human rights group on Monday published video footage showing the moment two teenage boys were shot dead by Israeli military forces on Nakba Day last week.
“The images captured on video show unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine.
“These acts by Israeli soldiers may amount to war crimes, and the Israeli authorities must conduct serious, impartial, and thorough investigations to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”
Israeli military forces have killed four Palestinian children in 2014. Over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since 2000, according to DCI-Palestine.
Amnesty International condemned Israel’s military forces following the killings, saying the army has “repeatedly resorted to extreme violence to respond to Palestinian protests against Israel’s occupation, discriminatory policies, confiscation of land and construction of unlawful settlements.”
In February, Amnesty released a report entitled ‘Trigger-happy,’ which found that Israeli forces display a “callous disregard” for human life, with near total impunity for the killing of Palestinian civilians in cases examined since 2011.
The report said that some killings, including the murder of Samir Awad, 16, in Jan. 2013, could amount to war crimes.
By Allison Deger, Mondoweiss
May 20, 2014
Video of the two Palestinians killed last Thursday at an annual Nakba Day protest outside of Ofer prison show the youths did not pose a threat to life to Israeli soldiers. And a photo set reveals one medic was shot in the head while aiding a wounded youth.
The CCTV footage released by Defense of Children International-Palestine captures Nadim Siam Abu Nuwara, 17, standing with a group of youth before he collapsed to the ground. Mohammed Mahmoud Odeh Salameh, 16, was also killed in the demonstration, along with one other protester critically wounded from live-fire. Abu Nuwara is hit at 48 seconds into the video.
On Friday after a funeral procession in Ramallah, I rode to an outdoor prayer ceremony with a Palestinian journalist who photographed Abu Nuwara’s final moments, the youth in the video footage. Sitting in the car with Samer Nazzal, 28, from Raya FM, I was shown a series of images where a medic lifting Abu Nuwara is being struck in the head with a rubber bullet. Nazzal circled the rubber bullet to outline it before the moment of impact. In the following picture, the medic is seen cradling his head.
“Yesterday it was really difficult—they [the Israeli Defense Forces] used real bullets from the start. They were aiming to push protesters back they were aiming to kill,” said Nazzal. “It was bizarre because the clashes were normal,” continuing, “I want you to write they weren’t holding Kalashnikov’s or M16s or RPJs, they were just throwing stones from far, far away and never did the stones strike a soldier,” he said.
Nazzal took the pictures while taking cover with other photographers from live-rounds fired by the Israeli army. Nazzal careened from behind a building and saw Abu Nuwara throwing stones, but by the time live-fire struck him, the youths had stopped. “He was so alive and the next minute he was lying on the street and put his hand on his chest.” Nazzal then snapped probably the most circulated photo of Abu Nuwara just before death. He kept photographing as a group of youth and one medic moved to lift Abu Nuwara and carry him to an ambulance. Then Nazzal noticed the medic.
“I saw him holding his head like he had been shot. But after I went back to my office and I saw a rubber bullet in the frame,” said Nazzal. Indeed Nazzal images confirm the Israeli army did fire at the first responder and others who were attempting to transport the lethally injured youth.
The live-rounds used against the Palestinian protesters at the Nakba Day demonstration and the rubber bullet fired at the first responder comes two months after Amnesty International’s report “Trigger Happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank” outlined how “reckless force” from the Israeli army and police since 2011. “In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life,” said the organization.
Since the beginning of 2014, ten Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli fire. Last year Israeli forces killed 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, 14 during demonstrations.
By Defence of Children International – Palestine
May 17, 2014
Israeli forces fatally shot Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, on May 15 during clashes following a demonstration marking Nakba Day.
Ramallah—Israeli forces killed two Palestinian teens during clashes on Thursday outside the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, were both fatally shot in the chest with live ammunition near Ofer military prison in the West Bank city of Beitunia. Both boys were transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where they were later pronounced dead.
The boys were participating in a demonstration near Ofer military prison to mark Nakba Day and express solidarity with hunger striking prisoners currently held in administrative detention by Israel. The demonstration reportedly began peacefully and then turned violent when Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youths, according to The New York Times.
“Israeli forces continue to use excessive force and recklessly fire live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets on unarmed protesters, including children, killing them with impunity,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “While Israel claims to open investigations into such incidents, they are not transparent or independent, and seldom result in a soldier being held accountable.”
Mohammad Abdullah Hussein al-Azzeh, 15, sustained a gunshot wound when he was hit with live ammunition in the back and left lung while taking part in the same demonstration. He is currently in stable condition at the Ramallah Medical Complex.
Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip held marches on May 15 to commemorate the Nabka or “catastrophe”, which marks the forced displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian homeland in 1948.
The use of live ammunition by soldiers on unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children, has been a recent area of concern to human rights groups. In February, Amnesty International released a report finding that the Israeli army uses reckless force throughout the West Bank.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that the killings were under investigation and claimed that only rubber-coated metal bullets, stun grenades and tear gas were used by Israeli forces at the time of the incident, not live ammunition, according to Haaretz.
The deaths on Thursday raise the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in 2014 to four, according to data collected by DCI-Palestine. Over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2000.
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 December 2013, Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, 15, from Jalazoun refugee camp north of the West Bank city of Ramallah was fatally shot with live ammunition fired by an Israeli soldier. Documenting the killing, DCI-Palestine found that Wajih had been shot in the back from a distance of 150-200 meters (about 500 feet).
The Israeli military’s own regulations dictate that live ammunition must be used “only under circumstances of real mortal danger,” but the regulations are not enforced and frequently ignored by Israeli soldiers, according to research by DCI-Palestine and a recent report by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.