US backs Israel military's 'moral code' after killings

May 25, 2014
A man calls for help
A man calls for help after 16-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thahir is shot by an Israeli sniper on May 15.

The US government has reaffirmed its “deep respect for the Israeli army’s moral code” days after video emerged of a cold-blooded Israeli sniper killings two Palestinian boys.

The boys, 17-year-old Nadim Siam Nuwara and 16-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thahir, were killed at a Nakba Day protest near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia on May 15. Nakba Day commemorates the ethnic cleansing in 1948 when Israel was founded on the back of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land.

Israeli television has shown the live bullet recovered from the body of Nadim.

The comments from US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki praising the Israeli army, came as Associated Press journalist Matt Lee pressed her on her earlier call for Israel to investigate the killings.

Lee asked Psaki about Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s rejection of the US call for an investigation and his denigrating comments about Psaki herself.

Psaki responded by backing down from any serious demand for accountability. She said Israel should be in the “lead” on any investigation because the incident occurred “on their soil”.

In fact, the incident occurred in the occupied West Bank, which no country recognises to be part of “Israel”. The territory is subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention ― what Israel does there is an international not an internal matter.

Psaki refused to be drawn on the fact that Israel has a long, well-documented record of granting impunity to personnel who commit crimes against Palestinians.

“I’m not going to make a sweeping comment about that,” she said. “But obviously, they are in the lead, they should be in the lead, and we support their efforts to investigate.”

Israeli officials have, meanwhile, reaffirmed their utter contempt for the truth and for the lives of the children their occupation forces so brutally ended.

Haaretz reported that Israeli military sources are now claiming ― ludicrously ― that “the shots may have been fired by the Palestinian side, rather than by Israeli troops. Senior Israeli officials said a video of the shootings that has that sparked an outcry was likely forged.”

Occupation forces have offered no evidence to support these far-fetched assertions that fly in the face of eyewitness accounts and the images clearly visible on the videos.

Video: Unlawful killing of two Palestinian teens outside Ofer. Defence for Children Palestine.

Fakher Zayid, the eyewitness whose CCTV security cameras captured the horrifying shootings, told Haaretz that most of the young people on the scene at the time of the shooting were children on their way out of school.

“Most of the people there were school children who had finished their studies and were going toward the Ofer prison,” he said. “I saw [a group of] Israeli soldiers standing by a nearby building, the teenagers were outside of their field of vision.

“Another squad was standing at a distance of some 250-300 meters from the youths who were throwing stones. [The soldiers were] firing smoke grenades and rubber bullets at them. Despite that, there did not seem to be a full-on, frontal collision between the two groups.”

Ziad said two boys suddenly fell to the ground after several minutes of shooting by Israeli soldiers. “For several minutes, live bullets were shot individually … I heard at least four shots, three of which hit the youths including the two seen in the videos.”

Asked if he saw anyone in the area carrying weapons besides Israeli soldiers, Ziad said no. “Israel can say what it wants,” he said, “but I am the one who stood here and saw what happened.”

As well as the two boys killed, another teen and a young man were injured.

Siam Nuwara told Israel’s Channel 1 television that his son Nadim was wearing a school bag on his back when he died. He showed Israeli TV reporters the school bag and the bullet recovered from his son’s body.

Nuwara said he was prepared to spend the rest of his life seeking justice for his murdered son.

[Reprinted from Electronic Intifada.]

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