Calls intensify for Israel to investigate Palestinian shootings

The Palestinian government accused Israel of 'cold-blooded murder' and carrying out 'a war crime against defenceless children'.
Masked Palestinian youths carry Nadim Nawara after he was shot by Israeli forces outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison, on May 15, 2014. Nawara later died from his injuries. Abbas Momani/AFP Photo
Masked Palestinian youths carry Nadim Nawara after he was shot by Israeli forces outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison, on May 15, 2014. Nawara later died from his injuries. Abbas Momani/AFP Photo

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Jerusalem // The US and United Nations have called on Israel to investigate the deaths of two Palestinians shot to death during a May 15 protest, after video emerged that appeared to contradict the Israeli version of the killings.

The shootings come in a period of rising tension and diplomatic jousting between Israelis and Palestinians, after both sides blamed the other for the collapse of US-mediated peace talks last month.

The two Palestinian teenagers were killed during a protest outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, in which stone-throwing demonstrators confronted Israeli troops. The Israeli military said an initial investigation showed that forces didn’t fire live ammunition. The video footage, captured by a Palestinian- owned security camera, shows both youngsters shot down in the street when neither is engaged in a confrontation with soldiers. The source of the shots is not apparent.

“We look to the government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident, including whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators,” state department spokesman Jen Psaki said yesterday in Washington.

UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco called on Israel to conduct an “independent and transparent” investigation. The UN issued a statement today saying seven West Bank Palestinians were killed and at least 43 wounded so far this year by Israeli security forces using live fire.

“Israel’s use of excessive and indiscriminate violence and live ammunition at non-violent Palestinian demonstrations constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law,” Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

The Israeli army questioned the authenticity of the video footage, saying in a statement it “has been edited and doesn’t document the full extent of the event, nor does it reflect the violent nature of the riot.”

Israeli officials have previously charged that the military has been smeared by misleading or doctored documentary footage, including a widely seen French TV report on the death of 12- year-old Mohamed Al Dura during a Gaza Strip riot in 2000.

Palestinians say the boy was killed by Israeli fire; Israel says the report, which became an iconic weapon in the Palestinian public relations campaign against Israel, provides no evidence to back up that claim.

* Bloomberg

Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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