Court Names Border Police Officer Charged With Killing Palestinian Teen on Nakba Day

Ben Dery is accused of firing live bullets, against orders, at a demonstrator who threw a stone at troops.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
Mourners carrying the body of Palestinian teen Nadim Nuwara, who was killed in a clash with Israeli troops on May 15, during his funeral in Ramallah, May 16, 2014.
Mourners carrying the body of Palestinian teen Nadim Nuwara, who was killed in a clash with Israeli troops on May 15, during his funeral in Ramallah, May 16, 2014.Credit: AP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday cleared for publication the name of the Border Police officer accused of shooting to death a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank village of Beitunia last May.

Soldier Ben Dery, 21, of Rishon Letzion was arrested and charged last month for firing live bullets against orders, which resulted in the death of 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara.

Four Palestinians were shot during a demonstration on May 15 marking Nakba Day, what Palestinians refer to as “the catastrophe” of 1948. Nuwara and Mohammed Salameh, both 17, were killed by the gunfire.

A video clip of the shooting in Beitunia showed that the two teens were shot after the confrontations had already subsided between the security troops who were in the area — soldiers from the Border Police and an artillery battalion — and several Palestinians. Other video clips showed that the security forces were dozens of meters away, and Palestinian eyewitnesses said that the troops used live ammunition, a claim that the army initially denied.

According to the charge sheet filed last month, Deri — who served as a squad commander in the Border Police’s 38th Company, which is stationed at the Ofer military base — hid the fact that he was firing live bullets against orders.

On May 15, Nakba Day, the company was stationed in several places in Beitunia, a town near Ramallah. At 11 A.M., Dery, together with other soldiers of the Border Police and a military recorder, were on a terrace overlooking the road leading from Beitunia to the separation barrier and the crossing point for goods that is located there.

The indictment states further that according to the orders that the Border Police soldiers received, they were supposed to fire rubber bullets at the demonstrators. Dery had an M-16 rifle with an attachment for firing rubber bullets. The rubber bullets were contained in a magazine marked in red, together with blanks. Dery replaced the bullets in the marked magazine with ordinary bullets for the M-16 to hide the fact that he was using live ammunition. At 1:45 P.M., four minutes after Nuwara threw a stone at the troops, Dery shot him in the chest, killing him.

After the incident, Nuwara’s father, Siam, found a single bullet that he said had penetrated his son’s body and remained inside the backpack he had been wearing. Shortly after the incident, officials of the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers set a date with members of Nuwara’s family on which they would hand over the bullet, but the family reneged. The bullet was instead handed over to the offices of the Palestinian general prosecutor, and photographs of it were given to the defense establishment and to human-right groups.

An autopsy in June proved that Nawara had been killed by live ammunition.

In September, the bullet that allegedly struck and killed Nuwara was handed over to investigative authorities in Israel for examination in a forensic laboratory. Forensic experts informed the police that the bullet fired from the Border Police soldier’s rifle was the one that had killed Nuwara, whose blood was found on it. After the incident, the army gave various reasons why the Palestinians had been shot. Troops who were on the scene claimed that no live ammunition had been used at all, but only rubber bullets, gas grenades and stun grenades. The Central Command’s inquiry of the incident revealed that the troops who had fired the rubber bullets had been from the Border Police, and an army officer claimed that the Artillery Corps troops in the area had not fired rubber bullets during the demonstration.

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