Official Efforts to Discredit Evidence Raise Need for Justice
June 15, 2014
The autopsy of Nadim Nuwarah bolsters evidence indicating that Israeli forces unlawfully killed two boys on May 15. Israeli officials’ attempts to discredit evidence pointing to an apparent war crime by their forces raise grave concerns about accountability for these children’s deaths.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director

(Jerusalem) – A Palestinian autopsy has confirmed that a Palestinian boy killed by Israeli forces during a protest in the West Bank on May 15, 2014, died from injuries caused by live ammunition. The June 11, 2014 autopsy of Nadim Nuwarah, 17, found bullet entry and exit wounds and metal bullet fragments.

Human Rights Watch investigations into the killings of Nuwarah and a second boy, Mohammed Salameh, 16, in the West Bank town of Beitunia on the afternoon of May 15 found that neither boy posed a threat to Israeli forces at the time.

“The autopsy of Nadim Nuwarah bolsters evidence indicating that Israeli forces unlawfully killed two boys on May 15,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Israeli officials’ attempts to discredit evidence pointing to an apparent war crime by their forces raise grave concerns about accountability for these children’s deaths.”

The autopsy was conducted at the Palestinian Institute of Forensic Medicine, located at Al-Quds University in the West Bank, by the chief Palestinian pathologist, Dr. Sabr al-Alul. Two Israeli forensic pathologists observed the autopsy, as well as two forensic pathologists, from Denmark and the United States, whose participation was requested by the family.

Israeli government and military officials have repeatedly claimed that their forces did not fire live ammunition but only teargas and rubber bullets during the protest. But the autopsy rules out the possibility that a rubber bullet killed Nuwarah. Israeli officials have also suggested that video footage that captured the killings of Nuwarah and Salameh was somehow falsified, but provided no evidence to support the claim.

On May 22, the Israeli military suspended a soldier from the military spokesperson’s office for firing two rubber bullets without authorization during the demonstration, but stated that he did not fire any live ammunition. The Israeli military and border police are still investigating the events.

“Israeli authorities are spending more energy trying to discredit the evidence than ending security forces’ unnecessary use of live ammunition during protests against people who pose no threat,” Whitson said. “How many more Palestinian children need to die before Israel gets serious about controlling its forces and holding those responsible for abuses to account?”