A border policeman arrested last month on suspicion of using live ammunition instead of rubber bullets during a protest in the West Bank, causing the death of a Palestinian teenager, was named Sunday by the Jerusalem District Court as 21-year-old Ben Deri.
A police investigation into the shooting found that Deri had used a live round, rather than the nonlethal munitions used to disperse crowds, during Nakba Day demonstrations in the West Bank village of Beitunia, near Ramallah, on May 15.
Two Palestinian protesters, Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Muhammad Abu Taher, 22, were killed in the shooting. A video released following the incident appeared to show the two demonstrators shot while walking in an area away from the demonstration and despite posing no threat to the border police unit.
Deri is suspected of firing a round that killed Nawara, but a Channel 2 report last month said the border policeman was being investigated for both killings. Most of the police’s findings in the case are still under gag order.
“This is Israel’s chance to prove to the world that it is a state of law, which means that the law equally applies to both Israel and the Palestinians,” Nawara’s father, Siam, told Ynet.
“The state should show the world that it will punish the border policeman in the same manner as it would if a Palestinian shot an Israeli,” he said, later clarifying that he expected judges to hand Deri a life sentence.
“The law should be blind and identical on both sides. I am pleased that Israel is going in the right direction and is taking steps to correct this case,” he concluded.
The IDF initially maintained that only nonlethal dispersal methods were used by troops during the Nakba Day demonstration, and a senior Defense Ministry official had told The Times of Israel at the time that the video of the incident had likely been doctored.
An autopsy performed by Palestinian and Israeli pathologists in June, however, found that Nawara was almost certainly killed by live fire, most likely from an IDF weapon. 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 Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
Since the shooting, Deri has completed his three-year mandatory service at the West Bank Border Police’s 38th company and has been released from active duty.
Deri’s commander was also investigated following the incident, on suspicion that he knew his subordinate had fired live ammunition but did not report it.
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.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.