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Thu Nov 13, 2014, 02:37 PM

Bitunya shooting leading to arrest of Border Police officers confirms B’Tselem’s findings

Investigation of Bitunya shooting leading to arrest of Border Police officers confirms B’Tselem’s finding that the youths were killed by live fire

12 Nov 2014

Following yesterday’s arrest of several Border Police officers over the killing two Palestinian youths at Bitunya in May 2014, B’Tselem said that the official investigation’s findings corroborated what the organization found immediately after the incident – that Nadim Nawarah and Muhammad Salameh (Abu Daher) were killed, and two other Palestinians injured, by live ammunition and not rubber-coated metal bullets. The officer who remained in custody is only a suspect at this point, and no charges have been filed against him. However, the findings that led to the arrest appear to confirm B’Tselem’s report and refute the military’s version. The latter relied on accounts given by soldiers in an operational inquiry and was broadly quoted by the media.

The investigation must be speedily completed and the persons responsible for the killing of the two youths stand trial. This incident is exceptional in the rare body of evidence available: full footage of the incident captured by security cameras, a bullet recovered from Nawara's backpack, and metallic fragments extracted from Nawarah’s body during an autopsy. B’Tselem does not know whether the officers arrested are also suspected of having killed Salameh (Abu Daher) and injuring two other youths, and whether anyone will be held accountable for those cases.

In the days after the Bitunya shooting, Israeli politicians, army officers, pundits, military spokespersons and others self-appointed government apologists claimed that the footage was fabricated, some even suggesting that the deaths themselves had been staged. This false rhetoric served a well-orchestrated spin intended to divert attention from the gravity of the incident and the need for investigation to the credibility of the video footage. In future, the authorities would do well to concentrate on uncovering the truth rather than creating media spins and attempts to evade responsibility for wrongdoing.

Background on the incident:

On Thursday, 15 May 2014, four Palestinians were shot with live ammunition in the West Bank town of Bitunya, close to Ofer Prison, during a demonstration marking Nakba Day. Two of them, both minors, died of their wounds: Nadim Siyam Nawarah, 17, from Ramallah, and Muhammad Mahmoud Salameh (Abu Daher), 17, from the village of al-Mazra'ah al-Qibliyah. 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, Salameh was struck in the back, and the fourth man was struck below his left elbow.


Footage of the killing of Nadim Nawarah (cameras 1+2):

Footage of the killing of Muhammad Salameh (cameras 1+2):

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