UN, US Call for Inquiry into Rioters Shot on Nakba Day
A top UN official on Tuesday called for an investigation into the deaths of two Palestinian Arab rioters fatally shot last week by Israeli border policemen in Samaria.
The youths were shot dead as Israeli police responded to riots on "Nakba Day", in which anti-Zionists protest the creation of the State of Israel.
Assistant UN secretary general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco called for an "independent and transparent" probe into the circumstances surrounding the boys' deaths.
"It is of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat," said Fernandez-Taranco.
"The UN calls for an independent and transparent investigation by the Israeli authorities into the two deaths, and urges Israel to ensure that its security forces strictly adhere to the basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials," he said at a briefing of the UN Security Council.
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki likewise called for an investigation, saying "we're closely tracking the event and ask for additional information from the Israeli government. We expect the Israeli government to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, to verify the facts, including whether there was a proportional threat by the protesters."
Far-left NGO B'Tselem added its condemnation, and claimed to have footage from four security cameras in the area showing that two other rioters were shot.
The group claimed it had "strong evidence that live ammunition was used (by the army) and that the fire hit the upper torsos of all four victims. The investigation, compounded by security camera footage of the incident, indicates that the circumstances of the incident in no way justified use of live fire. These findings raise grave suspicion that the killing was willful."
"Unarmed youths" or rioting mob?
Israel has said the border police had tried to quell a violent riot by about 150 Arab extremists against IDF soldiers at Ofer Prison north of Jerusalem, where they lobbed stones and burning tires at IDF soldiers in a demand to free terrorists.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon noted that the riot was "violent, during which stones and petrol bombs were thrown at police who, feeling threatened, acted as they should have."
Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders for their part have said the youths were unarmed and posed no threat, accusing Israel of using "excessive and indiscriminate violence."
The group Defense for Children International-Palestine released what it said was closed circuit television footage showing the deaths of the two youths without provocation.
But the IDF rejected the footage, saying that the video is heavily edited in order to give a false picture of what really took place. “On Thursday, a violent and illegal disturbance took place at Bitunia,” it insisted. “The video is edited in a tendentious manner and does not reflect the violence of the riot.”
"An initial conversation with the forces that operated on the scene of the disturbance indicates no firing of live bullets. However, the Military Prosecution has given instructions for launching an investigation by Investigative Military Police.”
Major Aryeh Shalicar, and IDF spokesperson, reiterated the same message, telling AFP, "that film was edited and does not reflect the reality of the day in question; the violence. As part of our inquiry we have investigated whether there was live fire and we have not found that there was live fire. We are continuing with our investigation."