U.S. Rep. calls for investigation into murders of Palestinian teens
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) called on the State Department to investigate the killings of two Palestinian teens by Israeli forces that took place last year. Israeli border police shot and killed Nadeem Nawarah (17) and Mohammad Abu Daher (16) with live ammunition during a Nakba Day protest on May 15, 2014.
Live footage of the killing obtained by Defense for Children International Palestine shows both boys walking at a distance away from the demonstration, posing no threat to Israeli forces. Initial claims by the Israeli military insisted that only rubber bullets had been used to disperse demonstrators, but an autopsy of Nawarah’s body showed entry and exit wounds. Mr. Siam Nawarah, Nadeem’s father, also found a bloodied bullet in the backpack his son had been wearing.
Warning footage contains graphic material:
Now, Mr. Nawarah is in the United States telling his story, seeking not only justice for his son but for all Palestinian families that live in fear of losing their loved ones to the teeth of the Israeli occupation. Last November, a member of the 38th Company of Israeli Border Police, which is stationed at Ofer military base, was arrested in connection with Nadeem’s killing. The policeman’s trial begins next month, but as Mr. Nawarah notes in his online petition, “Israeli soldiers have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, but in the last 14 years only six soldiers have been charged with wrongdoing, and the toughest sentence imposed on any of them was 7.5 months in jail.”
Upon hearing his story herself, Rep. McCollum urged the State Department to further investigate the murders through transparent trial, as well as determine whether the Leahy Law had in fact been violated by the 38th Company of Israeli Border Police. Violation of the Leahy Law would render the 38th Company ineligible to receive future US military aid and training, and all of its members would be denied US visas.
In her letter, Rep. McCollum expands to address Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in the occupied West Bank in whole. She states: “Systematic human rights abuses are well documented, including the physical and psychological abuse of Palestinian children held in military detention.”
Ofer prison, where the Nakba Day demonstration was held, is one of the main sites of this abuse Rep. McCollum refers to. In 2013, the Electronic Intifada reported that 94 of 195 Palestinian children detained by Israel were being held in Ofer prison. According to Defense for Children International Palestine, Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in a military detention system.
The letter asking the state department for a “strong and unequivocal statement of commitment to the human rights of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation,” is a step in the right direction done by Rep. McCollum.