A top UN official has called for a transparent and independent investigation into the fatal shooting of two Palestinian teenagers by Israeli border police during a demonstration in the West Bank.
“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 Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the assistant UN secretary general for political affairs.
“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.
The killed youths were part of a group of about 150 Palestinians who were marking the 66th anniversary of Nakba Day – the annual ‘Day of the Catastrophe’ commemorating the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israeli state.
Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of “excessive and indiscriminate violence,” but Israel has said the border police were trying to quell a violent demonstration.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) insisted in a statement to RT that violence was used against them and that police did not use live rounds.
“A preliminary investigation determined that live fire was not used by security forces. The video clip which was released today has been edited, and doesn’t document the full extent of the event, nor does it reflect the violent nature of the riot,” the statement read.
But Bratt Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney at DCI-Palestine, a children’s charity that operates in the West Bank said that the evidence he has seen tells a very different story.
“What we do know is that at the time they were shot it was relatively calm. There was no stone throwing, there was a very low level of violence, if any based on the video we have,” he told RT.
He added that eye witnesses had seen some stone throwing but that even this did not warrant such a response from the Israelis
“The Israeli army has an obligation to not use lethal force, unless they are threatened with lethal force. So when the teens were shot there was no immediate threat to any soldiers’ life and therefore these killings are not justified under international humanitarian law, under international human rights law, and also the use of live fire isn’t justified in this circumstance under the Israeli’s military own guidelines,” he said.
Haggi Matar, a journalist at 972mag.com, a news website based in Israel and the Palestinian territories, points out that the army’s denials are meaningless because autopsies on the bodies of both teenagers show that they were shot with live rounds. He also said this occurrence is not rare.
“Dozens of Palestinians are being shot dead by Israeli forces every year in demonstrations, in clashes, in events very similar to this one wherein the army uses extraordinary force against unarmed civilians. At times it is as a response to stones being thrown at times unprovoked, but still it is much more violence than is used by the demonstrators,” he said.