Middle East

Israeli officer jailed for nine months for killing Palestinian teenager

Palestinian youth Nadim Nuwara lies on the ground after being shot by Israeli forces during clashes following a protest marking the Nakba outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison, on May 15, 2014, in the Palestinian village of Beitunia in the occupied West Bank (AFP)

An Israeli border police officer was reported to have been sentenced to nine months in prison and fined the equivalent of $13,955 for shooting dead Palestinian teenager Nadim Nuwara during a Nakba demonstration in 2014.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said, a Jerusalem district court judge on Wednesday sentenced Ben Deri, stating that “degree of negligence was significant and calls for prison time" while adding that Deri was “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders”.

Siyam Nuwara, Nadim's father, told Middle East Eye that the family was planning to appeal against the verdict, and called on the international community to intervene in the case.

"There is no justice in Israel," he said. "We collected all the evidence, but there is no justice."

Nadim was 17 when he was shot in the back outside of Ofer prison, the only Israeli prison located inside the occupied West Bank, during a protest marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba explusions of 750,000 Palestinians during the creation of Israel.

Security cameras and television crews recorded the moment when Nadim was killed.

Another young Palestinian, Mohammed Odeh Abu al-Thahir, was also shot and killed that day, although Israeli authorities have not opened a judicial investigation into his death.

A number of rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have stated that neither constituted an imminent threat when killed, with HRW deeming the case "an apparent war crime".

Israeli forces initially denied that any live bullets had been fired that day, as a number of Israeli officials, including then-ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, claimed Nadim and Abu al-Thahirs deaths had been staged.

Post mortem examinations showed Nadim had been shot in the back. Deri was arrested six months later and initially charged with murder.

Deris defence has hinged on the claim that a live bullet "accidentally" fell into the magazine of the officers weapon while he was charging it with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Deri agreed to a plea deal in early 2017 which downgraded the charges against him to wrongful death due to negligence.

Nadims family has contested the plea deal in front of the court, arguing that it was reached without their knowledge and that Deri knowingly used live ammunition that day.

Wednesdays hearing came as Israel has come under fire for its open-fire policy in the besieged Gaza Strip, as the Israeli army has killed 39 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded thousands more participating in the “Great March of Return” since 30 March.

Israeli authorities rarely indict soldiers who have killed Palestinians. When members of Israeli forces are charged for such deaths, sentences are often short – creating what Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din has called a context of "near impunity".

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