President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday visited the family of a 15-year-old Israeli shot dead earlier in the week while working on the border fence with Egypt.
Nimer Bassem Abu Amar, from the predominantly Bedouin village of Lakiya in southern Israel, was shot Tuesday by an Egyptian soldier who may have mistaken him for a smuggler, the IDF said.
“We are all citizens of the same state, we are all human beings,” Rivlin said during his visit to the family’s mourning tent.
“The pain of bereavement is the same pain, whether it is a child from Lakiya, Jerusalem, Haifa or Tel Aviv,” he added after embracing Nimer’s father, Bassem.
The slain teenager was employed by a civilian subcontractor working for the Defense Ministry on upkeep of the border fence in the Mount Harif area.
The Abu Amar family said no Defense Ministry official had shown up at the boy’s funeral Wednesday.
According to Rivlin, the first senior Israeli official to visit the family, the father, Bassem, reflected on fatherhood, telling the president, “You’re also a father. You know what it is to be a father. You know what it is to have a child.”
“Of course I know,” Rivlin wrote on Facebook after the visit.
Abu Amar’s uncle Fares told the president that many members of the family had served in Israel’s security services “over the generations,” and Abu Amar’s death “changed nothing when it came to the importance the family attaches to national service,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin promised to “keep track of the care and responsiveness the family receives, and I’m sure all the relevant agencies of the State of Israel will find a way to help.”
The teenager had been working close to the border at the time of the incident, pouring coffee for other workers in an area where markers on the ground between Israeli and Egyptian territory can be unclear.
Witnesses said he was still within Israeli territory when an Egyptian soldier guarding the other side of the border shouted at him to return to the Israeli side. He was then shot.
The Sinai Peninsula, which lies across the Israeli-Egyptian border, has seen rising tensions, rampant gunfights and terror attacks as the Egyptian army battles both insurgent jihadist groups affiliated with Islamic State and criminal smugglers.
In light of the security situation in Sinai, the work along the border had been “coordinated ahead of time with Egypt,” an army spokesperson said Wednesday.
That message, however, does not appear to have reached all the Egyptian troops on the ground, as Abu Amar was mistaken for either a smuggler or a militant. The apparent breakdown in communication within the Egyptian security forces could not be confirmed by the IDF.
“The investigation is ongoing,” the army spokesperson said.
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