Daily Israel Report

Liberman Rejects 'American Demands' for Nakba Day Shooting Probe

Foreign Minister rejects calls for international investigation, says IDF always carries out probes as part of its moral code.
By Arutz Sheva Staff and AFP
First Publish: 5/21/2014, 2:22 PM

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Flash 90

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday brushed off international criticism and demands for an investigation into the deaths of two Arab rioters killed by Israeli forces last week.  

"I reject any demand" for an international investigation, he told reporters on a tour of the city of Ariel in Samaria.  

"Such an incident will be investigated regardless of any demand," he remarked, denouncing world criticism of the incident as "hypocrisy".  

His remarks came a day after calls by Washington and a top UN official for an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the two deaths after a heavily-edited video clip emerged which portrayed the shooting as unprovoked.

The closed-circuit footage, released on Wednesday by the NGOs Defence For Children International and B'Tselem, appeared to show separate incidents in which two youths were shot as they took part in a violent demonstration near Ramallah as Palestinian Arabs marked the 66th anniversary of the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" - a term used to describe the failure of Arab forces to prevent the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority accused Israel for the "deliberate execution" of the pair. 

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."

'We don't need American demand'

Late on Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington expected the Israeli government "to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident".

And Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, called for an "independent and transparent" probe. He said it was "of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat".  

But Lieberman brushed off such calls.  

"We don't need an American demand" to launch an investigation, he said. "We will do it as part our commitment to the Israeli army's moral code."