The Electronic Intifada / December 5, 2020
What crime did 15-year-old Ali Ayman Saleh Nasser commit to be killed by occupation soldiers?
Observing a protest, apparently.
Israeli forces fatally shot Nasser in the stomach in the central West Bank village of al-Mughayyir on Friday during a protest against Israeli land theft in the area.
Nasser was reportedly not participating in demonstrations when he was killed.
All he did was watch, according to field investigations by Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP).
The child was taken in a private car to the entrance of a nearby village. From there, an ambulance took him to the Palestine Medical Complex in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
He was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Nasser is the sixth Palestinian child in the occupied West Bank to be killed by Israeli forces this year.
Kill and lie
As in many other cases when occupation forces killed a Palestinian child, the Israeli military lied about what happened.
The army denied using live fire during the Friday protests, according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz.
The military spokesperson insisted that soldiers used rubber-coated steel bullets and US-made Ruger rifles.
But Israel’s claim that Ruger rifles do not fire live ammunition is an outright lie. These guns fire live bullets, albeit smaller 22-caliber rounds.
They are nonetheless lethal.
During the second intifada that began in 2000, the head of the Israeli army’s operations directorate ruled that “the Ruger cannot be considered a non-lethal weapon and may be used only in circumstances that justify live fire,” B’Tselem stated in 2015.
“In view of the large number of people hit and even killed by 0.22 bullets early in the second intifada, use of this ammunition was suspended from 2001 to 2008,” the human rights group added.
B’Tselem began documenting Israel’s sharply increased use of 22-caliber rifles against unarmed Palestinian protesters in 2015.
DCIP confirmed that Nasser was killed by live fire. The group also confirmed that Israeli soldiers used sponge-tipped rounds and tear gas grenades against protesters.
Israeli forces also fired rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring four other Palestinian youths during demonstrations, Haaretz reported.
Calls for Israel to investigate itself
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Middle East peace envoy, called on Israel to “swiftly and independently investigate this shocking and unacceptable incident.”
It is unclear what Mladenov expects by calling for an “independent” investigation by the same army that committed the crime to be investigated.
The European Union’s representative office in the occupied West Bank also declared that this “shocking incident must be swiftly and fully investigated by the Israeli authorities in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
These officials all know full well that Israel’s self-investigations are a sham, shielding soldiers from accountability.
So a call for Israel to investigate itself amounts to a call for Israel to continue to enjoy impunity.
In 2016, B’Tselem called Israel’s investigation system a “fig leaf” and said it would stop cooperating with it.
A recent report by Israeli human rights group Yesh Din shows how a deliberately long and bureaucratic process is used to run out the clock, making a genuine investigation all but impossible.
The results speak for themselves: Only one Israeli soldier has been indicted over the use of live fire against unarmed protesters during the Great March of Return demonstrations held along Gaza’s eastern boundary from March 2018.
Israeli forces killed more than 215 unarmed Palestinians during those protests.
The soldier in question killed a 14-year-old child. His “punishment” was community service and a demotion.
The EU’s tweet calling for another sham Israeli self-investigation asks, “How many more Palestinian children will be subject to the excessive use of lethal force by the Israeli security forces?”
The answer is simple: Many more Palestinian children will be killed as long as the European Union and other governments continue to reward Israel for its abuses, ensure its impunity and trade with its weapons industry.
Residents of al-Mughayyir hold weekly demonstrations to protest a nearby illegal settlement outpost built on their land.
All Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law and building them is a war crime.
What Israel refers to as outposts are often built without even Israel’s permission. Still, the Israeli government sometimes provides the settlers with electricity – a basic service not reliably available to Palestinians living in Area C, the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank that remains under full Israeli military control.
The village is frequently attacked by Israeli settlers.
Settlers shot and killed a Palestinian father of four in the village in January 2019 under the protection of the military.
In January 2018, Israeli soldiers fatally shot 16-year-old Laith Abu Naim in the head with live ammunition during protests against the theft of village land by Israeli settlers.
Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada