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Israeli intelligence informs father of slain Palestinian his son was 'killed by mistake'

Sept. 6, 2016 11:02 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 13, 2016 6:07 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli intelligence on Tuesday informed the family of Mustafa Nimr, who was shot dead by Israeli forces on Monday during a military raid on the Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, that the 27-year-old was “killed by mistake.”

Mustafa’s father, Talal, told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence summoned him and his wife on Tuesday to the Nabl Yaqoub police station in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina and informed the family that the police had launched an investigation into the incident, adding that Mustafa and his brother-in-law, 25-year-old Ali Tayser Nimr who was injured at the time, were not attempting to carry out an attack.

Israeli forces shot Mustafa dead and injured Ali when the two came under live fire while driving near clashes that erupted between local youth and Israeli soldiers during a military raid in Shufat refugee camp. The two were returning home after picking up food for their family.

Ali’s condition was initially reported as moderate and he was evacuated by Israeli ambulances to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities claimed at the time that the driver of the vehicle attempted to run over Israeli police and border guard officers before they fired at the car -- a claim which family members and eye witnesses rejected.

“Their sorry will not bring back Mustafa,” Talal told Ma’an after speaking with the Israeli police. “Israeli soldiers do not value human souls and they kill for many reasons and have different excuses, as if they are hunting birds.”

“There are no justifications for killing our children,” the bereaved father continued. “Even if soldiers really did order them to stop the vehicle, why would they immediately start shooting at them?”

Talal added that he would now work to punish the soldiers who killed his son, and focus on protecting other Palestinian youths from such incidents. He also urged international local human rights groups to follow up with the case.

The Israeli intelligence also informed Talal that Mustafa’s slain body was currently being held in the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv, and would be returned for burial. However, no more information was given to the family.

Meanwhile, Abdallah Nimr, the brother of Ali, told Ma’an that the Israeli magistrate court extended the detention of injured Ali Nimr until next Thursday while he was still at the hospital being treated for his injuries. He is being charged with driving without a license.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the recent development.

According to Ma'an documentation, Nimr was the fourth resident of the Shufat refugee camp to have been killed by Israeli forces since October. Out of the four, two young men -- including Nimr -- were shot and killed after Israeli soldiers alleged they were attempting to commit an attack, while the other two -- Ahmad Salah and Wissam Faraj -- were killed during clashes with Israeli forces.

Israel has come under repeated criticism for failing to carry out due process in response to alleged and actual attacks, particularly in regard to the apparent extrajudicial executions of Palestinians who did not pose a threat when they were killed.

A number of Palestinians have killed under circumstances similar to Nimr's death, by coming under indiscriminate Israeli army fire while driving near to a military operation.

In late June, 15-year-old Mahmoud Raafat Badran was killed near Ramallah by Israeli soldiers after they "showered" the vehicle he was traveling in with live fire.

Though Israeli media first reported Badran as a "terrorist" who had been throwing stones, he was later revealed to be an innocent bystander to a nearby incident where pedestrian youth had been throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at passing vehicles.

Despite Israeli police later admitting to "mistakenly" killing the teenager who had nothing to do with the stone throwing, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said: “If it were not for the difficult security situation, which is entirely the result of incitement and Palestinian terror, Israel would not be forced to use force in order to protect its civilians.”

In July, 22-year-old Anwar Falah al-Salaymeh was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the town of al-Ram in the West Bank district of Jerusalem, when he and two friends driving in the area stumbled upon an ongoing Israeli army raid in the area.

At the time, the army said that forces shot at a “speeding vehicle heading towards them,” killing al-Salaymeh and grievously injuring one of the two other Palestinians in the vehicle.

However, the surviving passengers in the car categorically denied that they had attempted to run over the soldiers, saying that they were heading to a bakery and had been unaware that Israeli forces were deployed in the area.

Rights groups have challenged Israel's narrative in the death's Badran's and al-Salaymeh's, asserting that their killings and scores of others by Israeli forces since last fall have amounted to “extrajudicial executions,” as they have been carried out even when there was no threat of immediate danger.

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