Israeli Military Opens Criminal Probe Into Border Killings of Two Gaza Teens

Investigation into shootings ordered after suspicions arose that troops violated regulations for opening fire

Protests on the Gaza border, July, 2018.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Israeli military decided Tuesday to open an internal investigation into two incidents in which troops killed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek made the decision to examine the two cases: the killing of 18-year-old Abed Nabi next to the border fence in March, and the killing of 15-year-old Othman Hellis next to the Karni crossing in July.

A military statement said initial probes suggested that troops involved in the incidents did not adhere to open-fire regulations.

Footage showed al-Nabi being shot in the back during a demonstration on March 30, and his name was included in a list of members of terrorist organizations released by the Israeli army following the protest, an allegation his family denied. Sources in the military later said that the military's list was compiled based on intelligence it obtained.

Hellis was severly wounded during a protest near the border fence on July 13 and later succumbed to his wounds.

Haaretz reported last month that an internal military inquiry into the deaths of 153 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border was expected to find that none of the incidents involved violations of open-fire orders and that there were therefore no grounds for referring any of the cases to the Military Police for further investigation. 

Demonstrators killed by army fire were not intentionally targeted, but died as a result of “operational mishaps,” according to the team of investigators headed by Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch. The conclusions were not, however, binding.