Middle East

Video 'shows shootings of Palestinian protesters'

Screengrab of a video purportedly showing two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest on 15 May 2014 Image copyright DCI
Image caption DCI said Nadim Nuwara (left) was filmed by CCTV cameras shortly before being shot

A human rights group has released a video it says shows two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest last week.

Defence for Children International (DCI) said the footage proved Muhammad Abu Thahr and Nadim Nuwara had posed no threat and been killed unlawfully.

But the Israeli military said the video had been edited and did not document the "violent nature" of the incident.

It also questioned a claim that live ammunition had been fired at the boys.

A senior Palestinian official meanwhile said Israel's "use of excessive and indiscriminate violence" against protesters constituted a war crime.

'Zero danger'

Palestinian medics said Muhammad Abu Thahr, 16, and Nadim Nuwara, 17, and a third teenager were shot in the chest by live rounds at a protest in the West Bank town of Beitouniya on Thursday.

During the protest - on Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when Palestinians mark the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 - several dozen Palestinians threw stones towards Israeli troops deployed outside Ofer military prison.

Defence for Children International said the two-minute video of the incident that it published had been edited from six hours of surveillance footage from fixed CCTV cameras at a Palestinian-owned business.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Dozens of Palestinian protesters threw stones towards the Israeli troops at Thursday's protest

No Israeli troops can be seen in the video, which begins with a youth throwing a stone from the end of a street, beside a row of shops.

Seven minutes later, according to the timestamp, a youth wearing a backpack is seen slumping to the ground.

An hour and 13 minutes after that, a second youth collapses as he walks away from the area, his back turned to the scene of the earlier confrontations.

An Associated Press cameraman and a photographer who were at the scene confirmed the footage was of the two shootings.

"The images captured on video show unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting," said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine.

Brad Parker, a lawyer for DCI, told the Reuters news agency that he could not rule out the possibility that the two teenagers had been involved in earlier violence at the scene, but noted: "At the exact moment they were shot they weren't active."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A senior Palestinian official called the killings a "deliberate execution"

Under the Israeli military's rules of engagement, troops can use live ammunition only if they feel their lives are in danger.

An Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said the video supported the findings of its own investigation, based on witness accounts and medical records, which indicated that the Israeli troops had used live ammunition "in conditions where there was no feasible justification".

Spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said the troops had been "in zero danger".

The Israeli military said the video "is edited and does not document the full extent of the event nor does it reflect the violent nature of the riot".

Spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner also said it believed only "riot-dispersal means", including tear gas and rubber bullets, had been used.

"However, there are still question marks around this incident and there is an ongoing investigation. In parallel, a military police investigation has also been opened," he told Reuters.