Border policeman arrested for killing Palestinian in May

Investigation finds that officer fired live round at Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17; officer denies this; IDF had said only rubber bullets were used

Palestinian demonstrators help an injured friend during clashes with Israeli security forces outside Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Betunia, on Thursday, May 16, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian demonstrators help an injured friend during clashes with Israeli security forces outside Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Betunia, on Thursday, May 16, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Abbas Momani)

A Border Police officer was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of shooting dead a Palestinian teen at a Nakba Day protest outside Ramallah in May.

The suspect was detained by Israel Police and taken for an arraignment hearing, Army Radio reported.

Details of the police investigation into the shooting remained under a gag order, but a lead leaked to the press indicated that the probe found that the officer fired a live round, rather than a rubber bullet, as the IDF had claimed.

Channel 2 reported that he was also suspected of killing a second Palestinian who died that day.

The border policeman’s commander was also arrested on suspicion that he knew his subordinate had fired live ammunition but did not report it. The commander was released to house arrest until Sunday.

A police spokesperson couldn’t comment on the details of the case, but said that the investigation into the shooting was ongoing.

Benny Katz, the lawyer representing the suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, told Army Radio his client denied the charges against him.

“This arrest is superfluous, my client denies firing live bullets,” Benny Katz told Army Radio.

An autopsy performed by Palestinian and Israeli pathologists in June found that Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, was shot and killed in May’s Nakba Day rally in Beitunia, near Ramallah, by live fire, most likely shot by the IDF.

Nawara, 17, was one of two Palestinian teens killed on May 15. The IDF, which maintained only nonlethal dispersal methods were used by troops against the demonstration, declined to comment on the findings at the time.

Palestinian and Israeli specialists, as well as two pathologists from the US and Denmark, were in attendance during the autopsy, which took place at the Abu Dis Institute of Forensic Medicine in the West Bank.

An entry and exit wound were detected on the body, and shrapnel was also found, the Ma’an Palestinian news agency reported.

A video released following the incident seemed to show the two teens shot while walking in an area away from the demonstration. A senior Defense Ministry official had told The Times of Israel the video was likely doctored.

The incident was made the subject of an IDF investigation after the footage emerged apparently showing the teens being shot without provocation.

Israeli military officials said they had been investigating the incident since May 16, and had also opened a military police investigation. Preliminary findings indicated no live fire had been used by IDF troops who were present during the incident, they said.

Palestinian witnesses at the scene insisted the two had been killed by live ammunition.

An IDF soldier from a communications unit who accompanied Border Police at the Nakba Day rally was suspended from his unit on May 28 for firing rubber bullets against protocol.

AFP contributed to this report. 

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