Haaretz reveals: Non-combat IDF soldier opened fire at deadly Nakba Day protest - Diplomacy and Defense - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Haaretz reveals: Non-combat IDF soldier opened fire at deadly Nakba Day protest

The soldier took part in the incident in which 2 Palestinians were killed even though he was not authorized to do so; the soldier was suspended, but an investigation did not find evidence proving he was responsible.

A screengrab from the CNN footage.
A screengrab from the CNN footage. /
By Chaim Levinson and Amos Harel
Published 19:38 28.05.14

A probe into the deaths of two Palestinians killed in the West Bank village of Bitunia during a Nakba Day demonstration earlier this month took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, when a CNN video clip showed a non-combat soldier, who had accompanied his comrades on the mission, firing what appeared to be a rubber bullet during the incident.

The soldier, a member of an IDF communications division, apparently fired his bullet at around the same time that one of the Palestinians, Nadim Nuwara, 17, was killed. However, the IDF has found no evidence proving that this soldier's bullet caused Nuwara's death. The details of the case are under a military court gag order.
 
Non-combat soldiers who accompany combat units on such missions are unauthorized to use their weapons, unless shot at or under direct threat. The soldier, whose identity was discovered during the IDF’s operational inquiry into the incident, has been suspended from his job.
 
The operational inquiry is still ongoing, and the Military Investigative Police have also opened an investigation.
 
The IDF still does not know exactly what caused the deaths of Nuwara and another Palestinian, Mohammed Salameh, during the May 15 demonstration. Border Police officers were patrolling at the time, with an Artilley Corp unit present as back up.
 
The IDF has acknowledged that its troops fired rubber bullets during the incident – a fact confirmed by footage from both local security cameras and journalists. But the two Palestinians were apparently killed when they were relatively far away from the troops, which would seem to indicate that live fire was used. Yet the soldiers, officers and border policemen present at the scene have all denied that any live bullets were fired.
 
Last Thursday, a week after the incident occurred, the belated broadcast of footage taken by a CNN cameraman seemed to shed new light on what happened. That footage showed one member of a group of border policemen firing at the Palestinians. The camera then showed the Palestinians evacuating Nuwara, who was hit by a bullet in the chest and died of his wounds soon afterward.

Bitunia shooting
Palestinian kneels by body of Mohammed Abu Daher, killed in clash with IDF in Beitunia, May 20, 2014. / Photo by AP

The CNN video shows a soldier wearing the green IDF uniform, a different shade than the Border Police uniform. His sleeves are rolled up in a way that cannot be done on Border Police uniforms, and his helmet lacks the plastic shield of Border Police helmets.

The footage also shows the Border Police commander at the scene taking the rifle away from the soldier immediately after he fired the rubber bullet. The Border Police had been tasked with controlling the demonstration, with an IDF artillery unit present as back-up.

The belated revelation that this soldier opened fire during the incident reveals a problem that emerged during the second intifada (2000-05): Specialists from other units - from drivers to dog handlers, violated orders - who were attached to operational forces tasked with containing violent demonstrations or conducting arrests behaving inappropriately.

The fact that the specialist was not fully subordinate to the operational chain of command in the field makes it harder for field commanders to supervise his activities. Yet he is also far from his regular unit commanders back at base, which means they cannot keep a close eye on him either.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: “A Military Police investigation has been opened into the matter. When it is finished, its findings will be sent to the military prosecution for an opinion.”



comments

Add Comment

Thank you

Your talkback has been submitted successfully.
If selected for publication, it will appear as soon as possible on Haaretz.com.

please wait...

  • 6.
    Shame on US, shame on all...
    Live bullets against kids (sons, brothers) with stick and stones...
  • 5.
    Maybe shooting at kids makes a guy feel as if he was a man?
  • 4.
    IDF White Wash
    Shameful , the guy needs to be given the death penalty for what he did.
  • 3.
    "Hi. Say, want to shoot some kids? Here use my rifle."
  • talknic, ever bother to think about your infatuation with our country? We do continue to thrive. Why does that cause you so much pain?
  • I'd like our country to adhere to Internaional Law, the UN Charter and relevant conventions and live in peace. Not as as an Occupying Power
  • Because US tax money pays for Israel's crimes?
    simple.
  • Nobodt loves colonial aprtheid-- ask South Africa.
    And, ask Americans if we want to fund it.
  • 2.
    He will be given a token sentence, head patted, and sent out of prison
    as usual the criminals are never held accountable.
  • The sentence will be tougher than that! No dessert for a week!
  • 1.
    So now Non Combatant Members of IDF are suspended
    When they are clearly an accessory to murder. I am sure that will increase support and love for Israel globally! It makes good people want to vomit.