Ramallah, June 12, 2014—After undertaking an autopsy of the body of Nadim Nawarah, 17, on Wednesday, forensic pathologists have determined that a live bullet was the cause of his death. The Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces on May 15 during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia.
The autopsy, which was undertaken at Al-Quds University’s Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Dis, revealed the entry and exit wounds caused by the bullet, as well as recovering metallic fragments, which are presumed to be lead from the bullet’s core. Chief Palestinian pathologist, Dr. Saber al-Aalul, conducted the autopsy in the presence of two Israeli forensic pathologists, Dr. Chen Kugel and Dr. Ricardo Nachman, from the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir, and two international forensic pathologists from the U.S. and Denmark. At the request of the Nawarah family, Al Haq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Physicians for Human Rights, and B'Tselem coordinated the attendance of the international forensic pathologists.
Responding to the conclusions of the autopsy, the four non-government organizations stated:
“These findings underline the urgency of our demand that the criminal investigation into the Beitunia killings be conducted efficiently and concluded promptly. Rather than attempting to discredit those who called for an investigation, the Israeli military should now focus on uncovering the truth about the shootings, and holding those responsible to account.”
Nawarah's body was exhumed for the autopsy with his family’s consent. The family also provided the Palestinian prosecutor's office with the bullet recovered from Nawarah’s backpack, which he was wearing at the time of his death.
Israeli forces have consistently denied that live ammunition was employed during the incident, maintaining that only rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters were used. The autopsy findings, however, rule out a rubber bullet injury as the cause of death. The full autopsy report will include an assessment of the bullet's trajectory.
The family of Muhammad Salameh (Abu Daher), 16, the second victim killed during the clashes on May 15, declined an autopsy. Field research and medical evidence, however, strongly suggest that he too was shot with live ammunition.