U.S. Urges Restraint by Both Sides After Killing of Palestinian Teens

State Department calls for 'prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident.'

A Palestinian man shouts for help moments after Palestinian teen, Mohammad Abu Daher was shot
A Palestinian man shouts for help moments after Palestinian teen, Mohammad Abu Daher, on the ground, was shot to death by Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, May 15, 2014 AP

The U.S. State Department has called on the Israeli government to investigate the killing of two Palestinian teenagers protesting outside the Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah on Nakba Day last Thursday, and has called on both sides to show restraint.

“We look to the government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident,” said Jen Psaki, the State Department spokesperson while speaking to the press Tuesday. She added that this should include “whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators.”

Psaki said the U.S. would not undertake an evaluation of the force used, but stressed Israel should conduct its own investigation. She expressed condolences to the victims' families and urged both sides to exercise restraint.

On Tuesday, video footage of the shooting surfaced, indicating the victims - Muhammad Abu Thahr, 15, and Nadim Nuwara, 17 - were far away from the clashes and not in a direct confrontation with soldiers. The cameras were positioned atop a Palestinian-owned store where the incident took place.

A top UN official also called on Tuesday for an investigation into the deadly shooting. "It is of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat," Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, said, according to AFP.

The IDF denies live fire was used, but said the incident is under investigation. Opposition head and Labor Party Leader Isaac Herzog said the Chief of Staff's decision to start an investigation was important, and that he hoped it would examine not only how the soldiers functioned, but the procedure and commands from above. "I'm convinced the military will know to find out the truth, in order to remove any doubt about the incident."

Herzog added that the upsetting incident is the result of an unwanted situation in which the lack a political agreement turns IDF soldiers into a policing agency over a civilian population.

In a statement after the incident the IDF said, "Last Thursday, a violent and illegal disturbance took place in Beitunia. The video in question was edited in a biased way and does not reflect the violence in the disturbance."

"An initial investigation with the forces operating in area of disturbance did not use live fire. Nevertheless, the military prosecutor has ordered a limited internal investigation into the matter."