Ramallah, March 9, 2017—The family of a Palestinian teen fatally shot by Israeli forces in 2014, petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice in late February challenging the prosecution’s proposed plea deal with the officer charged in the killing as too lenient.
Accused Israeli border police officer, Ben Deri, was originally indicted on charges of manslaughter in the May 15, 2014 killing of 17-year-old Nadeem Nawara. The indictment accused Deri of knowingly firing live ammunition with intent to cause Nadeem “serious injury, while foreseeing the possibility of causing his death.” Last January, the prosecution announced its intent to offer Deri a plea deal to the lesser charge of negligent killing, claiming he was unaware there was live ammunition in his rifle magazine. The Nawara family have refused to accept this plea deal, appealing to the High Court of Justice.
"The evidence indicates Nadeem’s killing was intentional, not a result of negligence,” Siam Nawara, Nadeem’s father, told Defense for Children International - Palestine. “If the judge accepts this plea bargain, it will prove these are only mock courts that aim to whitewash Israel, portraying it as a state that respects the rule of law."
News of the plea deal comes at the end of a two-year-long legal process, including approximately 50 hearing delays and cancellations. The judge originally slated to hear the case was dismissed due to personal connections with a witness and the appointment of a second judge was significantly delayed.
According to CCTV footage, medical, and forensic evidence collected by DCIP, Nadeem posed no lethal or imminent threat to Israeli forces at the time he was fatally shot in the chest.
“Video and forensic evidence overwhelming suggest this was an intentional killing, yet the prosecution is shielding the perpetrator from the just, legal consequences of his conduct,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “This outcome illustrates the political will in Israel’s legal system to provide impunity for Israeli forces, not justice for Palestinian children.”
Nawara, along with Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, was shot dead in the aftermath of a demonstration in Beitunia, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. An eyewitness to the incident, Fakher Zayed, told DCIP, “At the moment of the killings nothing was going on and no stone throwing was taking place.” CCTV footage released by DCIP confirmed his testimony.
The incident drew international attention, pressuring Israeli authorities to take action. An Israeli police investigation found that Deri used live bullets rather than the rubber-coated metal bullets approved for crowd dispersal that day.
Deri’s indictment stands alone as the only instance a member of the Israeli forces was charged for killing a Palestinian child since 2014. In 2016 alone, Israeli forces and security guards killed 32 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year for Palestinian children in the West Bank in a decade. DCIP documented a further three child fatalities at the hands of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip between January and October of 2016.
Accountability is extremely rare in cases where Israeli forces are accused of committing crimes against Palestinians. Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that over half of 186 internal investigations opened in 2015 regarding Israeli soldiers suspected of harming Palestinians, were closed without any further steps. Only four investigations (3.1 percent) yielded an indictment.