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Israeli officer jailed for nine months for killing Palestinian teenager

Nadim Nuwara's family say they will appeal ruling against Ben Deri, who shot their 17-year-old son in the back during Nakba march of 2014
Palestinian youth Nadim Nuwara lies on the ground after being shot by Israeli forces following a protest marking the Nakba outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison, on 15 May 2014 (AFP)

An Israeli border police officer was reported to have been sentenced to nine months in prison and fined the equivalent of $13,955 for shooting dead Palestinian teenager Nadim Nuwara during a Nakba demonstration in 2014.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said a Jerusalem district court judge on Wednesday sentenced Ben Deri, stating that a “degree of negligence was significant" and called for prison time, while adding that Deri was “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders”. 

Israeli justice - sentences for killing Palestinians

2018 Officer Ben Deri: nine months for 'wrongful death due to negligence' for shooting Nadim Nuwara in 2014

2017 Soldier Elor Azarya: 18 months for manslaughter for shooting already wounded Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron in 2016. Sentence later cut by third for good behaviour

2012 Soldier 'S': 45 days for killing Ria Abu Hajaj, 64, and her daughter Majda, 37, as they held white flag during 2009 'Operation Cast Lead' in Gaza

2005 Captain 'R': acquitted of all charges over death of 13-year-old Iman al-Hams, who he shot 17 times in 2004.

Siyam Nuwara, Nadim's father, told Middle East Eye that the family was planning to appeal against the verdict, and called on the international community to intervene in the case.

"There is no justice in Israel," he said. "We collected all the evidence, but there is no justice."

Nuwara was 17 when he was shot in the back outside of Ofer prison, the only Israeli prison located inside the occupied West Bank, during a protest marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba explusions of 750,000 Palestinians during the creation of Israel.

Security cameras and television crews recorded the moment when Nadim was killed.

Another young Palestinian, Mohammed Odeh Abu al-Thahir, was also shot and killed that day, although Israeli authorities have not opened a judicial investigation into his death.

A number of rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have stated that neither constituted an imminent threat when killed, with HRW deeming the case "an apparent war crime".

Israeli forces initially denied that any live bullets had been fired that day, as a number of Israeli officials, including then-ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, claimed Nuwara and Abu al-Thahir’s deaths had been staged.

Post-mortem examinations showed Nuwara had been shot in the chest. Deri was arrested six months later and initially charged with murder.

Deri’s defence has hinged on the claim that a live bullet "accidentally" fell into the magazine of the officer’s weapon while he was charging it with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Deri agreed to a plea deal in early 2017 which downgraded the charges against him to wrongful death due to negligence.

Nuwara’s family contested the plea deal in front of the court, arguing that it was reached without their knowledge and that Deri knowingly used live ammunition that day.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement: "Ben Deri's trial epitomises the way in which Israel's investigative and legal systems whitewash the continued killing of Palestinians.

"Even in this case, unusual in that charges were pressed and it even went to trial, the whitewash continues. The trial ended with a ludicrously light sentence, which merely serves to underscore the standard message: Palestinian lives are forfeit.

“Israel will undoubtedly boast of this trial as a fine example of its ability to provide accountability. Damn the facts, it’s propaganda that counts.”

Wednesday’s hearing came as Israel faces criticism for an open-fire policy in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army has killed 39 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded thousands more participating in the “Great March of Return” since 30 March.

As long as the international community remains silent, the injustice and oppression of the Palestinian people will continue 

- Hanan Ashrawi, PLO

Israeli authorities rarely indict soldiers who have killed Palestinians. When members of Israeli forces are charged for such deaths, sentences are often short - creating what Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din has called a context of "near impunity".

Hanan Ashrawi, an executive member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, denounced the Israeli judicial system's double-standards.

"It is ludicrous that Palestinian child Ahed Tamimi who confronted an Israeli solider who invaded her home in the occupied West Bank has been forced to serve eight months in an Israeli jail cell," she said.

"Meanwhile, Israeli border policeman Ben Deri... only received a ninth month prison sentence."

"As long as the international community remains silent, the injustice and oppression of the Palestinian people will continue unabated. Israel must be held to account for its unbridled violence and gross violations against the Palestinian people."

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