Ramallah, May 25, 2014—The parents of two Palestinian teens killed on Nakba Day urge Pope Francis to speak out against the unlawful killing of their teenage sons and the countless other injustices Palestinian children endure under Israel's ongoing military occupation.
Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, were both fatally shot with live ammunition near Ofer military prison in the West Bank city of Beitunya on May 15. They were participating in a demonstration near Ofer military prison to mark Nakba Day and express solidarity with hunger striking prisoners currently held in administrative detention by Israel.
We are the parents of the two children, Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, who were killed in cold blood by Israeli forces. We appeal to Your Holiness as a religious and spiritual leader to call on international human rights organizations to seek justice in the prosecution of the perpetrators and hold their leaders accountable for the murder of our sons.
Our hearts are torn in anguish for the loss of our sons, whose young lives, dreams, and hopes were cut short by the bullets that struck them. They were murdered with the utmost cruelty and disregard for human life, at a time when our people were recalling the tragedy of the Nakba that befell upon us at the hands of the Israeli occupation.
Your Holiness, we would like you to watch the video that was published by Defense for Children International Palestine, documenting the murder and showing clearly how our children were killed without the blink of an eye.
As part of your moral responsibility as a prestigious religious and social figure, we hope that Your Holiness will interfere to put an end to the crimes committed against our children, women, and elderly.
We attach high hopes to your historic visit to our holy and blessed land, and we hope it will be a good start to exert every possible effort at the international level to end the occupation, so that our children may live in peace and security in the land of love and peace.
Abu Daher family and Nawarah family
The deaths on May 15 raise the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in 2014 to four, according to data collected by DCI-Palestine. Over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2000.
The use of live ammunition by soldiers on unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children, has been a recent area of concern to human rights groups. In February, Amnesty International released a report finding that the Israeli army uses reckless force throughout the West Bank.
During his visit to the Holy Land, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a community center in the Dheisheh refugee camp on Sunday and will meet dozens of children from three refugee camps.