Border Policeman Gets Plea Deal After Admitting Negligence in Shooting Death of Palestinian Teen

Ben Dery will not face manslaughter charge after saying he mistakenly fired live bullets, killing 17-year-old Nadi Nuwara in May 2014.

Ben Dery leaving Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in 2014.
Olivier Fitoussi

The prosecution has reached a plea bargain with a former Border Police officer indicted for manslaughter following the death of a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank in 2014.

According to the deal, Ben Dery will admit to causing severe bodily harm and causing the death of Nadim Nuwara, 17, through negligence at Beitunia checkpoint.

The prosecution had delayed presenting the plea deal to the court because Nuwara’s family has announced its intention to petition the High Court of Justice against the arrangement.

Border Police officer charged with killing Palestinian teen on Nakba Day

Dery claimed he did not know his rifle magazine contained live rounds and that he thought he was only firing rubber-coated bullets.

According to the plea bargain, the state will drop the manslaughter charge against Dery and his claim that he thought he was firing rubber bullets will be stated in the deal.

Nuwara’s family announced their opposition to the deal last month, stating, “This is probably a trick on the part of the accused to influence the court.” The family added that they expected the prosecution to take a strong stand on the matter. “Such an arrangement will be a badge of shame on the Israeli justice system,” they said.

The family also noted that the state had said live rounds were not meant to be fired during the incident.

The plea deal will state that Dery’s life was not in danger when he fired, although initially he opposed this clause (as reported by Amira Hass earlier this month).

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

Dery’s lawyer, Zion Amir, confirmed the details and said the plea bargain recognized that Dery was wrong to fire because his life was not in danger, but that the prosecution recognized he didn’t know he was firing live rounds. Therefore, according to the plea bargain, Nuwara’s death was caused only by negligence, Amir said.

The incident occurred on May 15, 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. – together with other Border Police officers from his unit – Dery was 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 shot him in the chest, killing him.

Soldiers at the scene said they had not fired live rounds, but only rubber bullets and teargas- and stun grenades. During the investigation by the Israel Defense Forces Central Command, it emerged that the troops who fired the live bullets were from the Border Police. Experts at Nuwara’s autopsy said it showed clear evidence that live bullets had been fired.