IDF suspends officer after Palestinian boys killed
Israel Defense Forces GOC Central Command Yair Naveh yesterday suspended a senior Combat Engineering Corps officer who commanded a force that shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank on Wednesday. Naveh said the conduct of the deputy company commander was defined as "unreasonable."
Oudai A'asi, 14, and his 15-year-old cousin Kamal A'asi, both from the West Bank village of Beit Lakia, were shot dead while throwing stones along with dozens of other protesters at a separation fence work site next to a village north of Highway 443.
Around 6 P.M., some 200 youths arrived on the scene and began throwing rocks at bulldozers and at the five soldiers who arrived on the scene in a jeep.
Palestinians at the scene said the soldiers initially opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas and at a certain point began firing live ammunition in the air.
Palestinian sources said the cousins were hit by live ammunition. Ramallah hospital officials said Uday was hit in the hip and thighs and Kamal was hit in the chest. One IDF soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers.
Nineteen-year-old Karem Yusuf, who was near the two casualties, said, "I saw two soldiers but it is possible there were more. Near the soldiers was a group of 10 youths and around them were some 200 more. The distance from the first group to the soldiers was about 20 meters. Kamal and Uday were next to me when they were shot. A soldier fired several shots, and I saw that Kamal was wounded in his chest."
The army said that "according to an initial investigation, a small IDF force securing the separation fence work site was surprised when hundreds of youths attacked them. The force made use of riot control weapons but at a certain point there was a danger to their lives, and the force's commander ordered they fire first in the air [with live ammunition] in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators. When this had no effect, he opened fire at the legs of several demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them. The circumstances of the event will be examined."
"This is a violation of the cease-fire," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, adviser to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. "Israel is looking for excuses to raise tensions and to depart from implementing the Sharm (el-Sheikh) understandings."