Source: Israeli military suspends soldier connected to shooting incident
2 Palestinian teens killed as a result of shooting in West Bank village on May 15
Israeli Defense Force says they only used tear gas and rubber bullets
The Israeli military has suspended a soldier who was filmed by CNN firing a rifle at Palestinian demonstrators during a deadly shooting incident on May 15 that resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers, an Israeli military source told CNN.
The source, who asked not to be identified because of a continuing Israeli investigation, said the soldier that was suspended worked for the military’s communications department and was not supposed to be shooting at all.
“He’s not supposed to shoot things,” the military source told CNN. “And that’s ultimately what he was doing,” the source said. “That’s why he was suspended until the investigation has been completed.”
The Israeli Defense Force is standing by its assertion that Israeli border police and soldiers only fired tear gas and rubber-coated projectiles during deadly clashes in the West Bank village of Beitunya on May 15.
Security cameras caught the fatal shooting that day of two Palestinian teenagers in Beitunya.
According to six hours of raw, unedited video distributed by the children’s rights advocacy organization Defense of Children International and reviewed by CNN in its entirety, the two boys – ages 17 and 16 – were shot on the same patch of asphalt on the same day, the second victim 73 minutes after the first.
At the exact moment when the first boy, Nadeem Nouwarah, was fatally wounded, CNN producer Kareem Khadder was also filming the clashes.
In the CNN video, it is not clear what kind of rounds the Israelis were shooting, or whether their gunfire hit Nouwarah. However, Khadder’s camera shows that less than 15 seconds after one of these gunshots, Palestinians were already racing to put the fatally wounded Nouwarah in the ambulance.
CNN filmed two Israeli security officers firing at the time of the incident. The first wore the black uniform and visored-helmet of a border police officer. The second wore the green uniform of the Israeli Defense Force, and appears to be the same man who was filmed earlier taking photographs with a still camera. Seconds after he shoots his weapon, a border policeman takes the rifle from him. CNN was able to match events on the security video with events on CNN’s own video.
The IDF soldier is seen at other moments in the video aiming the rifle at the Palestinian protesters, appearing to be coached by a border police officer.
IDF spokesmen and military experts tell CNN that both of the weapons fired in the video appear to be outfitted with an attachment used to shoot rubber-coated, metal projectiles. These “rubber bullets” are designed to wound, but not penetrate the bodies of the targets.
According to a medical report, Nouwarah was pronounced dead in a hospital, having suffered a single bullet wound that entered chest and passed out his back.
Doctors pronounced the other teenage victim, Mohammad Odeh Salameh, dead on arrival at the hospital, with a bullet wound that had pierced his back and exited out of his chest.
During an interview last week, Nouwarah’s grieving father Siam showed CNN the bloody backpack that his son was filmed wearing at the moment he was shot.
There was a small hole in the bag, at roughly the same location where the bullet would have exited from Nouwarah’s body.
The elder Nouwarah then pulled a packet of bloodstained papers out of the bag. They were photocopies of a text book that included the writings of Anton Chekhov, accompanied by handwriting, doodles, and class notes.
“We were surprised when we took the school backpack back from the hospital to find this bullet inside,” said the elder Nouwarah, who then pulled out a small used bullet stored in a plastic bag out of the backpack.
The metal slug appeared to be from a 556 NATO round, the standard ammunition used by M-16 rifles carried by Israeli security forces. It was impossible for CNN to confirm the authenticity of the bullet. Siam Nouwarah said he was saving it for a forensic examination. He accuses Israeli soldiers of killing his son.
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which investigates allegations of human rights abuses in the West Bank, said the fatal shootings in Beitunya could not have been caused by rubber bullets.
“We still think that these injuries could not have been sustained with any other weapons other than live ammunition,” said Sarit Michaeli, a B’Tselem spokeswoman.
Though rubber bullets are sometimes known to be fatal, Michaeli said “there’s just no recorded incident ever of a rubber bullet killing two people from a range of about 70 meters,” referring to an estimate of the distance between the border police and the victims.
However, Michaeli added that the CNN footage shows “border police firing something that looks very much like a rubber bullet.”
The U.S. State Department has joined the United Nations in calling for a swift and impartial investigation into the shootings.