Israeli soldiers ambushed three Palestinian teenagers with live ammunition, killing one, despite the fact that they posed no immediate threat. Neither the soldiers nor their commanders will face any charges.
An IDF commander ordered soldiers to fire live ammunition directly at Palestinian teenagers who broke through part of the separation fence, resulting in the killing of 14-year-old Yousef a-Shawamreh last year. This, despite the fact they they posed no immediate danger, according to a B’Tselem report released Wednesday criticizing the military’s decision to close the investigation without indictment.
On March 19, 2014, three Palestinians – an 18-year-old and two minors, one of them a-Shawamreh – walked up to the separation barrier in the area of the village of Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, southwest of Hebron. The IDF knows that certain parts of the barrier are often crossed by Palestinian youth who go to pick edible gundelia plants from their families’ land on the other side.
B’Tselem originally thought they crossed through an opening but later learned from military footage (video below) that they cut through the metal fence that the military sealed the previous day. This means that the IDF knew that whomever tried to cross that day would have to first sabotage the fence. That person would then be deemed “a fence saboteur” – and by definition suspected of committing an offense serious enough to warrant carrying out a suspect-apprehension procedure, including firing at below the knees.
According to B’Tselem, the investigators did not ask the commander why he had decided, by sealing the gaps in the fence, to incriminate anyone who crossed it as “suspected of a dangerous offense.”
According to the military, the soldiers in the field called out to the boys to stop, firing two warning shots in the air before firing at 14-year-old a-Shawamreh with a shot that should have been directed at his legs, but which they claim accidentally hit his waist. The Palestinian teens who were with a-Shawamreh testified that they didn’t realize there were any warning shots but rather were immediately fired upon.
B’Tselem slammed the Military Advocate General’s decision to close the investigation without serving any indictments. “No apparent attempt was made to reconcile the contradicting versions given by the suspects and by witnesses, and the responsibility of the commanders who decided to mount an armed ambush at the spot was utterly ignored.”
Whether or not the open-fire regulations directed by the
commander on that day were indeed in line with the IDF’s protocol, the incident is highly suspect. Why would soldiers who knew the fence was sealed the day before stand by and watch the three youth as they broke through, only to approach them afterwards. It is almost as if they waited for them to do it (a form of entrapment) so they could then justify firing on them. The bottom line, however, is that a 14 year old was killed for picking plants on land that he can no longer freely access due to the route of the separation barrier. If the protocol allows for him to be shot for that, there is clearly something very wrong with the system at its core.