Friday, October 30, 2020

Family of teen killed by border police sniper still waiting for justice

By The Palestine Monitor - January 11, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Nakba]

Siam Nowarah looks almost unrecognisable from the chubby man in the videos and photos circulating of him online. Most of them date back to more than three years go, when his son, then 17-year-old Nadeem Nowarah, was killed by an Israeli border police officer during a Nakba Day demonstration near Ofer military prison.

“It's very difficult. We need to finish with this case,” Siam Nowarah told Palestine Monitor. “My wife is very tired, so are my daughter, my son. And thinking about what we can do all the time.”

At a court hearing on Tuesday, the prosecutor asked for 20 to 27 months imprisonment for Ben Deri, the officer who shot the live bullet that hit Nadeem in the chest on May 15, 2014. The sentence hearing is now scheduled for April 26.

Siam believes the sentence is too lenient.

“I was very angry. I told [the prosecutor] I gave you all the evidence, strong evidence,” Siam, who has also been collecting every last piece of media coverage that came out about the case, told Palestine Monitor. “Now the judge could even decide for community service.”

Another teenager, Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, was shot in the back in the same spot just an hour after Nadeem. CCTV camera footage appears to show a lull in the clashes and that the two boys had not been throwing stones at the time of the shooting.

Israeli authorities initially denied the use of live fire, despite medical reports contradicting that claim, and the metal bullet Siam had found in Nadeem's backpack. Then-defense minister Moshe Yaalon was quoted as arguing the film had been edited, before admitting had had not actually seen the clip.

“In the beginning, when Nadeem was murdered, all [Israeli] political leaders tried to say this case is untrue,” Siam recounted. “When we went to court hearings, they were always postponed for no good reason.”

A forensic video analysis combining CCTV and CNN footage, as well as an autopsy on Nadeem's body, eventually confirmed live fire had been used. Deri was charged with manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years. He was accused of firing live ammunition with the intent of causing “serious injury, while foreseeing the possibility of causing death.”

Then came another ordeal for the family: Deri's defense lawyer cut a deal with the prosecutor according to which the manslaughter charges would be dropped and Deri would plead guilty to the lesser charge of negligent killing, saying the live round had found its way into his magazine without his knowledge.

The family didn't agree with the prosecution's decision and took the case to the Supreme Court, but lost last June. Ben Deri, who was initially put under house arrest, is now a free man while he waits for sentencing.

Israel consistently uses excessive force to quash demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. 16-year-old Musab Tamimi was the first Palestinian to be shot dead by Israeli forces in 2018. He was shot in the neck during clashes on January 3 in Deir Nitham, near Ramallah. More than 2,000 Palestinian minors have been killed since 2000, including during three wars on Gaza.

While Palestinians' ability to file complaints with the military or police investigation bodies is very limited, even when complaints are filed, they hardly ever lead to an indictment. Out of the 79 cases where Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces with live ammunition or crowd-control weapons since 2014, Deri is the only indictment.

“To pursue justice for my son, for any child in Palestine, we need control. We must control Israeli courts through the UN,” Siam Nowarah argued. “There is no justice.”

Photo: Siam Nowarah arrives at the Jerusalem District Court with his family on Tuesday

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