An Israeli army officer who killed a Palestinian teen in June 2016 will be dismissed from the army, but will not stand trial, Haaretz reported Friday.
The officer fired against regulations at a car of Palestinian teenagers near a checkpoint in the West Bank. The officer said he suspected that the occupants of the car had been throwing stones at Israeli officers.
As Haaretz reported:
At no point did the officer see or identify the stone-throwers, but he thought that because the car was near the place, its occupants were the stone-throwers trying to flee the scene. The officer ordered the soldier with him to open fire at the car’s tires, and opened fire himself. After massive fire, the car stopped on the side of the road. Its occupants turned out to be a number of young Palestinians coming back from a swimming pool. They were wounded by the gunfire, and Mahmoud Batran, 15, from the northern West Bank village of Beit Ur e-Tahta, was killed.
Israeli media depicted the shooting as the killing of a terrorist, according to Edo Konrad, deputy editor and writer at +972 Magazine:
The morning after the shooting, Israeli news outlets reported that a “15-year-old terrorist” was killed, although very quickly it became clear that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit had lied, and that the officer had fired at innocent passengers.
— Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) January 12, 2018
A subsequent investigation by the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division found that the officer violated laws of engagement with respect to vehicles. According to the rules, soldiers in the West Bank must only fire in the air, not at the tires, when it is clear that there is no danger to soldiers. But given the soldier’s claim that the incident was a case of mistaken identity, it was decided that he would not be charged with negligent manslaughter, according to Haaretz.
The cars’ other occupants, 15-year-old Hadi Badran and 13-year-old Daud Badran, were injured. A fourth passenger exited the car and ran away, but came back to find Mahmoud had been killed. According to Konrad, the driver and the passengers of the vehicle had their entry permits revoked after the shooting.
After the shooting, the driver had his entry permit to Israel revoked. His brothers' permits were also rescinded. Why? Because Israel regularly punishes Palestinians whether or not they are guilty of a crime. Call it deliberate collateral damage.
— Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) January 12, 2018
The case of Mahmoud Badran is all too familiar for many Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teen for throwing stones along Gaza’s border wall with Israel. That same day, soldiers killed another teen in the West Bank.
Israeli forces often use disproportionate violence to arrest and detain Palestinian children as young as six years old. Last month, a six-year-old Palestinian in a West Bank refugee camp was arrested and detained for five hours for throwing stones. The same month, Israeli forces shot and severely injured 14-year-old Mohammed Tamimi during a protest opposing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Tamimi’s injury prompted his cousin, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi to confront an Israeli soldier visiting her village in late December. Ahed slapped and kicked the soldier and has been in detention ever since. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for Ahed to serve a lifetime sentence.
According to Amnesty International, between 2016 and 2017, Israeli soldiers, police, and security guards killed almost 100 Palestinians in the occupied territories in the West Bank, eight in the Gaza Strip, and three in Israel. “Some, including children, were shot when they were posing no immediate threat to others’ lives and appeared to be victims of unlawful killings,” Amnesty wrote. In 2016, according to Human Rights Watch, Israeli security forces injured more than 3,200 Palestinians.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has been silent in the face of ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinians. His decision in early December to recognize Jerusalem — disputed territory that has long been the subject of contention between Israelis and Palestinians — as the Israeli capital was met with protests throughout the Middle East and condemnations throughout the world.