Border Policeman Who Killed Unarmed Palestinian Teen Released From Prison After Less Than Year

The parole committee cut Ben Dery's prison term by a third due to good behavior, despite objections by the state prosecutor

Ben Dery at court in April 2018.
Emil Salman

A former Border Policeman, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing an unarmed Palestinian teenager, was released Wednesday after a parole board cut his prison term by a third due to good behavior. 

Ben Dery shot Nadim Nuwara, 17, to death at Beitunia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2014. Dery was convicted in April to nine months in prison as part of a plea deal that stated he caused death through negligence and severe bodily harm, instead of the original charge of manslaughter. Israel's Supreme Court doubled his sentence in August.

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The parole board wrote in its decision to release Dery that he expressed remorse and regret and took responsibility for the incident. It also said that Dery had expressed empathy for Nuwara and his family.

The attorney general's representative objected to the early release, saying Dery had only expressed remorse for the act of negligence but not for causing severe bodily harm, which is a criminal offense. Nuwara's family vehemently opposed Dery's release, saying the regret he expressed wasn't sincere. The State Prosecutor's Office, too, voiced criticism concerning the early release.

Nadim Nuwara (center) a moment after being shot in Beitunia, May 15, 2014.
Reuters

Dery's lawyers, Adi Keidar and Zion Amir from the right-wing Honenu legal aid group, said Wednesday that the parole committee accepted their request for early release despite the state prosecutor's objections.

The incident in question occurred on May 15, which is Nakba Day, when Palestinians mark the loss of their homeland in 1948. Dery’s company was stationed in several places in Beitunia, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. At 11 A.M., Dery and other Border Police officers from his unit, were on a terrace overlooking the road leading from Beitunia to the West Bank separation barrier and the checkpoint located there.

The indictment states that the officers were given clear orders to fire only rubber bullets at the demonstrators. Dery had an M-16 rifle with an attachment for firing rubber bullets. A magazine containing rubber bullets together with blanks was marked in red. Dery replaced the bullets in the marked magazine with live M-16 rounds. At 1:45 P.M., four minutes after Nuwara threw a stone at Israeli forces, Dery fatally shot the teen in the chest.

Soldiers at the scene said they had only fired rubber bullets and teargas and stun grenades – no live rounds. During the investigation conducted by the Israeli military's Central Command, it emerged that the troops who fired the live bullets were from the Border Police. Nuwara's autopsy showed clear evidence that live bullets had been fired.