Ramallah, May 28, 2014—Following the release of CCTV footage that captures the killing of two Palestinian teenagers during clashes with Israeli forces outside Ofer military prison on May 15, DCI-Palestine responds to questions raised about the incident.
What footage did DCI-Palestine obtain?
On May 19, 2014, DCI-Palestine obtained footage from four CCTV cameras. The footage documented a six hour period that captured the fatal shootings of two Palestinian teenagers, Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Daher, 16, on May 15, 2014.
The footage was filmed on eight security cameras mounted on all sides of a building next to the scene where the shooting occurred. Four cameras from three sides of the building show the relevant angles. These cover the street where protestors were gathered and the two locations in which Israeli soldiers were stationed: a first group in the parking lot of Ofer military prison, and the second in a raised area on the same side of the street as the protestors.
Where did DCI-Palestine obtain the DVDs?
The footage came from cameras owned by Fakher Zayed, whose home and carpentry business stands within sight of Ofer military prison and the Israeli separation barrier. The eight security cameras, operating 24 hours a day, are installed on each side of his building.
Will DCI-Palestine release the full footage?
DCI-Palestine's video published on YouTube highlights the unlawful killings that occurred on May 15. The unedited, six-hour long footage has been shared with a number of news agencies and several human rights organizations, who have verified the video as accurately portraying events on that day.
As a child’s rights organization, DCI-Palestine’s first priority is the best interests of the child. Publicly releasing the full video could allow others to identify specific children where faces are visible. Given the widespread and systematic ill-treatment that exists in the Israeli military detention system, DCI-Palestine does not feel that it can responsibly release the full-length CCTV footage.
Eyewitnesses at the scene including journalists and photographers have provided statements that verify that the video accurately depicts the day’s events.
Did DCI-Palestine seek permission before releasing the footage?
After examining the footage and before publishing the video, DCI-Palestine sought permission from the families of both boys.
Who has been able to confirm the authenticity of the video?
The Guardian reported that several journalists from international news organizations were at the scene of the shootings, including a photographer for Agence France-Presse, Abbas Momani, whose still photographs appear to duplicate action from the CCTV images.
Other photographers from international news agencies have corroborated Momani’s report, with one describing the youths who were shot and fell. One photographer said, “Photographers of international agencies don’t take part in staged events and shows. We stood there like everyone else and were hit by quite a few smoke grenades and rubber bullets. We were there."
A second video, filmed by CNN producer Khareem Khadder and released on May 22, shows Israeli forces firing in the direction of the youths at the same moment that Nadeem Nawara was fatally shot. Khadder's camera shows that less than 15 seconds after one of these gunshots, Palestinians were already racing to put the fatally wounded Nawara into an ambulance. This video corroborates the incident captured by the CCTV footage released by DCI-Palestine.
Was live ammunition used in the shootings?
There is compelling evidence to suggest that live ammunition was used - against the Israeli military’s own regulations - in the shootings.
The medical reports for the two boys, obtained by DCI-Palestine, other rights groups and several new agencies, confirm that in each case the direction taken by the bullet was synonymous with that of a live bullet. Rubber bullets are not designed to penetrate the body and would not have caused such wounds, particularly at such a relatively long range: the closest Israeli soldier was at a distance of at least 70 meters (230 feet).
Eye witnesses including Fakher Zayed, those engaged in the protest, and photographers from international agencies confirm that they heard four distinct shots of live ammunition, which has a different sound to that of rubber bullets.
Siam Nawara, Nadeem's father, discovered the metal casing of a bullet in his son's backpack, which was returned to him following the killing. Though they could not yet confirm the authenticity of the bullet, CNN reported that it appeared to be from a 556 NATO round, the standard ammunition used in M-16 rifles carried by Israeli security forces.
While stone throwing occurred during the clashes and prior to the fatal shootings, Nadeem and Mohammad were shot while posing no immediate threat to any soldier's life. The Israeli military's own regulations dictate that live ammunition must be used "only under circumstances of real mortal danger," but the regulations are not enforced and frequently ignored by Israeli soldiers, according to research by DCI-Palestine and a recent report by Amnesty International.
Based on the video and eyewitness testimony, these killings are not justified under international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and even the Israeli military's own guidelines.
Could the shots have been fired from the Palestinian side?
Israeli officials have claimed that the shots could have been fired from the Palestinian side.
Proffering unsubstantiated theories serves to detract from the main issue: that two Palestinian children have been killed. DCI-Palestine believes that the burden of proof lies with the Israeli military, who were firing shots at the time of the deaths, and that an impartial and transparent investigation should be undertaken to determine what happened.
What steps has the Israeli military taken in the aftermath of the shootings?
Since the publication of the CCTV footage, the UN, the US and numerous human rights organizations have called upon the Israeli military to conduct an investigation into the deaths.
In the week following the killings, Israel’s police spokesman and officials stated that a preliminary investigation had been undertaken, which had established that no live fire had taken place and that the boys were killed during a serious riot.
Following these statements and after the release of the CCTV footage, a limited new investigation was opened. The Guardian quoted a spokesperson as saying: "After the reports that two people had been killed we had senior military on the ground whose preliminary report concluded that there had been no live fire. Clearly – with the new claims – there are questions to be cleared up."
The CCTV footage released by DCI-Palestine, as well as the further footage released by CNN, contradicts the Israeli accounts given to date. The human rights group B'Tselem said its own investigation had established that the two boys had been shot without justification, and that soldiers were "in zero danger" at the time.
What steps should the Israeli military take in the aftermath of the shootings?
Mohammad Azzeh, the third teen shot with live ammunition on May 15, told DCI-Palestine in a sworn affidavit that he recalls Israeli soldiers filming or photographing the clashes. Israeli forces should release any footage they may have captured to the public as part of a transparent investigation into the killings.
Rather than cast doubt on the authenticity of the CCTV footage or lay blame on unknown Palestinian gunmen, Israeli authorities should immediately conduct a full, impartial and transparent investigation into the killings that occurred on May 15. Those responsible for the killings should be held accountable.
Is there a precedent for a satisfactory investigation into the killings?
Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, reports that since 2000, only five percent of complaints submitted to the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID) have led to an indictment.
Israel’s poor record of accountability sends a loud message that grave human rights violations against Palestinians can be committed with total impunity.
DCI-Palestine calls upon the Israeli authorities to begin changing this poor record by conducting an impartial and transparent investigation into the deaths of Nadeem and Mohammad to ensure that the boys’ families are able to see those responsible brought to justice.