Israeli Army Closes Case on March Death of Palestinian Teen

Fatally shot in the hip after passing through a breach in the separation fence by Hebron, military concludes soldier was aiming at his legs.

AFP

The Israel Defense Forces closed its investigation looking into the circumstances of the death of Yusef Abu Aker Shawamreh, 14, who was killed by live fire in March.

Shawamreh was fatally shot in the hip while out with two friends to pick gundelia, a thistle-like edible plant, on land belonging to the boy's family that was cut off from its home by the barrier, in order to help earn money for their families.

The chief military prosecutor, General Danny Efroni, will not take further steps regarding the soldiers involved after concluded there was no suspicion of a criminal act on their part.

According to the investigation made by the military police in the wake of the deaths of Shawamreh and two other Palestinians, the boy and his friends approached the separation fence near the village of Deir al-Asal al-Foqa, southwest of Hebron, and they created a breach allowing them to pass through. According to B'tselem, the human rights organization, there had been a wide breach in that section of the barrier for the previous two years.

Israeli army officials say that the breach of the fence was documented by a security camera. An army force from the 77th armored battalion, lying in ambush, noticed one of the boys going through the breach, and began carrying out the suspect arrest procedure.

At this point, according to the investigation's findings, two of the boys went through the fence and started fleeing in the direction of Israeli territory. Soldiers from the unit explained that because the boys did not stop, they opened fire in the direction of the suspects' legs.

"In line with rules for opening fire, the shooting was carried out only when one of the soldiers identified the possibility of shooting at the lower part of the deceased's legs," the military prosecutor stated, referring to Shawamreh. "Regretfully, even though the fire was aimed at his lower leg, the bullet hit the deceased's hip."

The ambush was meant to catch and arrest anyone sabotaging the security fence, according to the prosecution's statement. "The investigation showed that the force prepared for the operation professionally and acted in line with rules for opening fire," it announced. "And in the absence of doubt of a military figure being involved in anything criminal, the chief military prosecutor decided to stop dealing with the case without taking any further steps."

Alex Levac