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U.S. lawmaker urges State Dept. investigation into killing of two Palestinian boys
"Israel's treatment of Palestinian youth in the [o]ccupied West Bank is unacceptable," says U.S. Representative Betty McCollum.
Ramallah, September 4, 2015—U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) asked the U.S. State Department last month to investigate the 2014 unlawful killing of two Palestinian teenagers at the hands of Israeli forces.
McCollum expressed outrage over the killing of Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, in a letter she sent on August 18 to Ambassador Anne Patterson, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Israeli forces shot dead both teenagers on May 15, 2014, near Israel’s Ofer military prison. Nadeem died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Mohammad was shot in the back about an hour later.
“Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in the [o]ccupied West Bank is unacceptable and must not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international community,” wrote McCollum. “The murders of Nadeem Nawara and Mohammad Daher only highlight a brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanizes Palestinian children. It is time for a strong and unequivocal statement of U.S. commitment to the human rights for Palestinian children.”
CCTV cameras fixed on the building where the boys were shot captured the incident. The video, obtained and released by DCIP, shows the moment each boy collapsed to the ground, and then protesters rushing to their aid and carrying away their lifeless bodies. The video confirms that neither boy posed any lethal or imminent threat to Israeli forces at the time they were killed.
DCIP commissioned the U.K.-based multidisciplinary research group, Forensic Architecture, to conduct a detailed forensic analysis of the video footage. The result was clear video, audio, and spatial evidence, released on November 20, 2014, that identified Nadeem’s killer.
McCollum called on the State Department to investigate whether the 38th Company of the Israeli Border Police — the unit allegedly involved in the shootings of Nadeem and Mohammad — violated the “Leahy Law.” If that is the case,the unit and individuals involved should face sanctions. The “Leahy Law” prohibits the U.S. government from providing military assistance to a foreign military unit where credible information exists that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.
“Israeli forces have for too long committed grave violations of human rights without any consequences,” said Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “We hope the strong action taken by McCollum spurs other U.S. lawmakers to hold Israel military units who target children for abuse accountable and prevent them from receiving U.S. military equipment, training, or other types of assistance.”
In August, DCIP staff, together with Nadeem’s father, Siam Nawara, visited members of Congress, U.N. representatives, and State Department officials to demand justice for the 14 children shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank since 2014.
Violence often occurs at the heavily militarized Israeli checkpoints dotted throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where the presence of soldiers creates tension and leads to clashes between civilians and the military. Israeli forces have shot and killed three Palestinian children near military checkpoints in the West Bank over the past five months.
Laith Fadil al-Khalidi, 15, sustained a gunshot wound to the back on August 1 during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the Atara military checkpoint near the West Bank town of Birzeit. In July, a senior military officer shot dead Mohammad Sami Ali Kasba, 17, from a distance of about 15 meters (49 feet) near Qalandia checkpoint, the main entryway between Ramallah and Jerusalem. In April, Israeli forces killed Ali Abu Ghannam, 17, at the East Jerusalem Zayyem checkpoint following an alleged altercation with soldiers.