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HRW: Killing of Palestinian teens could amount to 'war crime'

June 9, 2014 6:24 P.M. (Updated: June 11, 2014 10:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human Rights Watch said Monday that the killing of two unarmed Palestinian teenagers by Israeli forces on May 15 could amount to war crimes.

"The willful killing of civilians by Israeli security forces as part of the occupation is a war crime," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director.

"Israel has a responsibility to prosecute the forces who targeted these teens, and also those responsible for assigning the use of live ammunition to police a demonstration."

Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, were shot dead during a Nakba Day protest outside Ofer military base.

HRW said that video footage, photographs, witness statements and medical records indicate that the two teenagers posed "no imminent threat to the forces at the time."

Israel's military said it is investigating the incident and claimed that its forces did not use live fire, while Israeli defense and foreign ministers suggested that Palestinians had falsified the video footage showing the killings.

HRW said that all available evidence indicates that that Israeli forces fired live ammunition, noting that it would be unlikely that rubber bullets would have caused the injuries that killed both teens, especially from a distance of 60 meters.

"The Israeli military's claim that its forces didn't shoot any live ammunition on May 15 does not stand up to scrutiny," Whitson said.

"To end the impunity that this latest incident exemplifies, Israel's allies should apply serious and sustained pressure on Israel, and Palestine should seek the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court."

In medical records obtained from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, HRW said that Nawara suffered a gunshot injury to the chest and liver, massive bleeding and a tear in the inferior vena cava.

Abu Daher was announced dead on arrival from a gunshot injury that entered the right side of his back, wounding his heart.

Since September 2000, Israel's military has convicted six soldiers for unlawfully killing Palestinians with the most severe sentence imposed a mere seven-an-a-half months in jail.

Over the same period, Israeli military forces have killed more than 3,100 Palestinian civilians who were not taking part in hostilities, according to B'Tselem.
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