A United States government call on Israel to investigate the cold-blooded videotaped killing of two Palestinian boys falls far short of a real demand for accountability and amounts to complicity in covering up the crime.
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.
The video evidence indicates that Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon was simply lying when he claimed that “it was a life-threatening situation, so the officers acted accordingly.”The videos confirm that the boys were shot dead at long distance like hunted animals and were not engaged in any activity that could plausibly be described as threatening.
The first of the videos, taken by security cameras on a nearby store, were released by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section on May 19. Additional footage taken from another angle was released by Israeli rights group B’Tselem. A third boy, Muhammad Abdullah Hussein al-Azzeh, 15, not seen in the videos, sustained a gunshot wound in the back and left lung during the same demonstration. The fourth victim, a 23-year-old who B’Tselem said wished to remain unnamed, was lightly injured.
“We are closely following this incident in the video,” US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki told journalists at the daily briefing on 20 May.“We look to the Government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation…”
Asked if based on the video the State Department thought the Israeli “response proportional to the threat,” Psaki replied, “We’re not going to make an evaluation on that from here. We are encouraging the government of Israel to conduct their own investigation.”
Given Israel’s total failure to properly investigate virtually any killings of Palestinians and the systematic impunity afforded to killers, the US call for Israel to investigate itself is tantamount to complicity in covering up the killings.
Since 2000, Israeli forces and settlers have killed more than 1,400 children.According to Amnesty International, “trigger-happy” Israeli occupation forces have engaged in a pattern of “war crimes” against Palestinians. Yet, according to Israeli legal advocacy group Yesh Din, “Most cases of violent crimes against Palestinians not only go unpunished – but often are completely ignored by the authorities.”
Yesh Din says that 94 percent of criminal investigations launched by Israeli occupation authorities against soldiers suspected of criminal violent activity against Palestinians and their property are closed without any indictments.
In December 2012, an Israeli occupation soldier shot dead Palestinian teenager Muhammad al-Salaymeh on his seventeenth birthday in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
Video of the incident totally contradicted the version of events given to Israeli media by Nofar Mizrahi, the occupation soldier who killed him. Yet once again, despite the evidence, Mizrahi has enjoyed complete impunity.
Amnesty International confirms that Israeli soldiers and officers, if investigated at all, generally go unpunished for killing or injuring Palestinian civilians, even when they do so in violation of Israel’s own legal system.
The failure of the US to demand any real accountability is hardly surprising: one of the Obama administration’s proudest achievements was helping Israel bury the UN-commissioned Goldstone report into Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 massacre in Gaza.
The US has also tenaciously assisted Israel to avoid accountability over its killings of nine people, including the American youth Furkan Dogan, aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
Continuing this unbroken pattern of cover up and complicity, the US was alone out of 47 countries in voting against several resolutions condemning Israeli abuses at the UN Human Rights Council in March. Under Obama, US military aid to Israel has reached record levels.
By: Ali Abunimah