The Israeli border police officer responsible for shooting and killing Palestinian teenager Nadim Nuwara in 2014 was sentenced on Wednesday by an Israeli court to nine months in prison and a $13,940 (50,000 shekels) fine for negligent homicide.
The Jerusalem district court judge sentenced Israeli officer Ben Deri, saying the “degree of negligence was significant and calls for prison time.”
Despite being convicted in the killing of an unarmed minor, Deri was described by the judge during sentencing as “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders,” according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Deri shot and killed 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara in May 2014, during a demonstration marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba outside of the Ofer detention center near Ramallah. Mohammad Salameh, 15, was killed alongside Nuwara during the protests, though no one was arrested in connection with his death.
Siam Nuwara, Nadim’s father, told Mondoweiss that the nine-month sentence handed down to Deri “does not even come close to justice,” adding that the minimum sentence for negligent homicide should carry seven years in prison.
For years, the family has been fighting to bring Deri to justice for the murder of their son, whose killing was widely publicized after it was caught on CNN and CCTV surveillance camera footage.
After Nuwara’s killing, Deri was arrested and initially charged with second-degree murder.
Israeli security forces denied responsibility for Nuwara’s death on the grounds that live fire wasn’t used during the demonstration, despite eyewitness testimony and video evidence suggesting that it had been used.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said at the time that it was possible that the video had been doctored, without providing an explanation on how the teens were killed. Michael Oren, then Israeli ambassador, also argued that the killings were faked.
Deri and his defense team claimed that he mistakenly killed Nuwara: he “did not know” he was firing live rounds after “accidentally” switching out the rubber bullet magazine with live bullets.
In January 2017, Deri’s charges were significantly reduced, when the Israeli prosecution struck a surprise plea deal with the officer where he pled guilty to negligent murder and aggravated assault charges.
“Today the Israeli court … proved what we all know, there is no justice under occupation,” Siam told Mondoweiss.
Despite Deri’s lenient sentence, Siam said he refuses to give up, and that even though he has “no right under Israeli law to appeal the decision,” he will continue his work to bring international attention to the Israeli court system.
A investigation by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a 2016 report that Israel’s court system routinely postpones or slows down investigations regarding violations against Palestinians, with the intent of pushing families or individuals to eventually drop their cases.
“When my son died I made a decision to dedicate my life to ensure justice, not just for my son Nadim, but for all Palestinian children,” Siam told Mondoweiss.
“Since then I have witnessed case after case of children being killed cold blooded by Israeli soldiers.I refuse to give up, and I refuse to allow more Palestinian children to die in vain. This needs to stop. We need to stop it,” he said.
Hamas says the protests will continue even after Nakba Day on May 15
Forty Palestinians have been killed and 5,511 were wounded in the mass protests along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel since March 30, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Tuesday. The protests have been held every Friday since then.
The information on the casualties is broken down by date, nature of the injury, gender and age, as well as where the person was treated.
Of the injured, 2,596 people were hospitalized in government hospitals, 773 in nongovernment hospitals and the rest were treated in the field. Of those in government hospitals, 1,499 were hit by live ammunition, 107 by sponge-tipped bullets, 408 suffered gas inhalation and 582 suffered other injuries; 2,142 were adults and 454 were minors.
“Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties, due to years of blockade, internal divide and a chronic energy crisis, which have left essential services in Gaza barely able to function,” stated the report.
The information is based on figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza and OCHA says the data is a preliminary snapshot only and further information is pending.
On Wednesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported the death of Ahmed Abu Hassin, a press photographer who was shot two weeks ago during the protests.
The protests will continue even after May 15, the day the Palestinians mark the Nakba (Catastrophe) – the founding of Israel – said Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, on Wednesday. “The Palestinian people will demonstrate throughout Ramadan to deal with the many challenges facing us, and first of all the peace plan promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump, called the ‘Deal of the Century,’” said Haniyeh.
B’Tselem lodges the request ahead of a Security Council session Thursday on the Middle East
The head of the human rights group B’Tselem has asked the United Nations to try to stop Israel from shooting unarmed protesters on the Gaza border.
The request by Hagai El-Ad comes in a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of a Security Council session Thursday on the Middle East.
El-Ad lists the names of 35 Palestinian demonstrators who, he says, were shot to death by Israeli forces during incidents on the border in recent weeks. He describes Gazans’ lives as “without any political rights, devoid of any hope for a reasonable future, totally subject to the decisions and policies of the Israeli government.”
El-Ad says the number of deaths stems from the Israeli army’s “manifestly illegal” rules of engagement against unarmed demonstrators, and points the finger largely at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Gadi Eisenkot.
According to El-Ad, Israel’s investigations have been whitewashes, thus “the United Nations must do all in its power – and its responsibility – in order to protect Palestinian lives and uphold international norms."
Israel, for its part, has said it is trying to stop the Gaza fence from being breached.
On the agenda at the session scheduled for 5 P.M. Thursday Israel time are the Gaza-fence protests and possibly also U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy on the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said he would provide new information about Iran’s presence in Syria at the session.
The UN envoy to the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, will take part in Thursday’s debate.
The amputation of 19-year-old Gaza photographer Yousef Kronz's left leg could have been prevented had Israel let him receive timely medical treatment in the West Bank
His left leg was amputated in Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, and now efforts are underway, in Istishari Arab Hospital in the West Bank, to ensure that his right leg doesn’t suffer the same fate. More than two weeks passed between the amputation of the first leg – which itself could have been prevented – and the action undertaken to save the other one. Precious time in which Israel refused to allow Yousef Kronz, the first Palestinian seriously wounded during the recent weekly protests in the Gaza Strip, to be moved to the hospital outside Ramallah. The High Court of Justice finally forced the Defense Ministry to bring this disgraceful conduct to an end and allow the transfer of the 19-year-old student and journalist from Bureij refugee camp, to that more sophisticated facility.
On Friday, March 30, Kronz was shot, first in the left leg, by an Israel Defense Forces sniper, and then, seconds later, when he tried to get up, in the right leg, by a second sniper. According to Kronz, the rounds that slammed into his legs and shattered his life came from two different directions. In other words, he was shot by two different marksmen, as he stood 750 meters away from the Gaza border fence, armed with no more than his camera, wearing a vest with “Press” emblazoned on it, trying to document the incessant firing by IDF snipers at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. After he was hit, he tells us now, he saw more and more people falling to the sand, bleeding, “like birds.”
The incident occurred on Land Day, the first day of the Marches of Return opposite the Gaza fence.
Istishari Hospital is situated high in the village of Surda, north of Ramallah. It’s a large, new, sophisticated private facility, luxurious and glistening. Kronz has a private room, spacious and well-lit with an adjustable bed, a television, wood-paneled walls and a breathtaking view. Israel did not allow anyone from his family to accompany Kronz to the West Bank or tend to him, other than his grandfather, Mohammed Kronz, who’s 85, and who, after a few days, was compelled to go to the home of relatives in the distant Aroub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, to rest. Now Yousef, who is suffering from serious pain in his stump and in his remaining leg, is being looked after with infinite devotion by a cousin, Ghassan Karnaz, who is also from Aroub.
The two cousins had never met before. Like all the young people in Gaza, Kronz had never been outside the Strip. Now he’s breached the siege on it – without his leg.
A first-year communications student at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, he is from a family that hails from Faluja, in the Negev. His father receives his salary as a Gaza-based police officer from the Palestinian Authority. Kronz was active in the social networks, reporting on the situation in the Strip. A few months ago, he purchased a Canon 5D stills camera for $5,000, half of it from savings, the rest from his father, and started to work for the local Bureij news agency.
Kronz was the first journalist shot during the month of demonstrations, though not the last. He was well acquainted with Yaser Murtaja, a journalist killed in cold blood by IDF snipers on April 6. Like Kronz, Murtaja too was from a Gaza refugee camp – Jabalya.
On March 30, Kronz walked about 1.5 kilometers from his home to the site of the demonstrations to photograph them for his news agency. He recited the midday prayers in the journalists’ tent set up there. The 25 local reporters then discussed how they would divide up the arena of the protests they were documenting. The atmosphere was tense, he recalls now; everyone expected large numbers of casualties.
Did he think the IDF would use live ammunition? “The IDF always fires live ammunition.” His face is contorted with pain, but Kronz is well groomed, despite his condition. He constantly glances at the mirror or at the camera in his cellphone, to be sure his designer haircut looks okay.
After the prayers, he continues, the young people started to set fire to tires. Signs set up by the organizers showed the way to the toilets and various tents, and also the distance from the border fence at each point. Thus Kronz knew he was 750 meters away from the barrier. The day before, the IDF had dropped leaflets in nearby Jabalya warning that anyone who came closer than 300 meters from the fence would be risking his life. With plenty of experience under their belts, Gazans take those warnings seriously. The organizers marked a permitted green zone and a forbidden, and dangerous, red zone. Karnaz says he was hundreds of meters outside the boundary of the red zone.
At 2 P.M., the situation reached a boiling point. IDF troops started to hurl tear-gas grenades as young people approached to within 100 meters of the fence. They used slingshots to hurl stones at the soldiers but were too far away to hit them. Karnaz says he saw a few dozen soldiers opposite him on the other side of the barrier; three jeeps and the barrel of a tank were peeking out from behind an embankment. He too found a small dirt mound and perched behind it, placing the tripod with his camera on it to one side and his backpack on the other. He knelt on the sand, his legs crossed before him. The barrage of tear gas grew more intense, the soldiers fired the grenades in volleys, and the skies became covered with thick, burning gas. The wind carried the gas in his direction; demonstrators used onions to protect themselves from it.
Kronz took about 950 photos.
He remembers looking at his watch at 3 P.M. Later that afternoon, a friend, Bilal Azara, was getting married in Bureij, so he thought he should head home, shower and change. Kronz picked up his camera and backpack, and stood up. At that precise moment, the first bullet struck him. He didn’t hear anything but felt a searing pain. The camera was thrown from his hands and he collapsed, then immediately tried to get up. That’s when the second bullet ripped into his other leg. The first entered five centimeters below the knee, the second seven centimeters above the other knee. Paralyzed, he tried to shout for help but his voice betrayed him. He says he felt as if he’d been electrocuted. His camera was left behind in the sands of Gaza.
A few meters away was a young man of the same age, Ahmed al-Bahar, an assistant to one of the other photographers. Bahar ran to Kronz and tried to lift him up – but just then he too was shot in the leg and fell to the ground, bleeding.
At this point in our conversation, distant relatives of 11-year-old Abed al-Rahman Nufal, who also lost a leg in Gaza and is hospitalized here at Istishari, enter the room to say hello. Nufal is one of only three other wounded Gazans out of 1,500 wounded in the demonstrations to date, whom Israel has allowed to be moved here. The family, former Gazans now living in the West Bank, have come to see how the boy is doing.
Young people carried Kronz and Bahar to the only ambulance in the area. In short order the vehicle was crammed with six wounded people lying next to each other; Kronz was the most badly injured. The soldiers went on hurling tear gas; Kronz felt as if he was suffocating in the ambulance. A paramedic placed an oxygen mask on his face, but the crowding inside prevented him from staunching the bleeding from Kronz’s legs. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Kronz was taken to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Dir al-Balah.
At the hospital he saw his left leg for the first time; it was shattered, the bone protruding, the flesh lacerated. At the sight of it, he passed out. He was anesthetized and taken immediately to the larger Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, because of the severity of the wounds. At Shifa he underwent six hours of surgery to stanch the bleeding.
After four days in Shifa the condition of Kronz’s left leg deteriorated and the physicians were compelled to amputate it above the knee. He received 24 transfusions of blood. The request to transfer him to Ramallah for treatment was submitted to Israel just hours after he was wounded, but was rejected by the authorities. The situation of the right leg looked dire, as well.
Nine days after Kronz was wounded, on April 8, two rights groups – Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights – petitioned the Israeli High Court to allow Kronz and another wounded Gazan, Mohammed Alajuri, to be transferred urgently to Ramallah for treatment. The court apparently saw no real urgency in dealing with the case and waited four days before deliberating on the petition, whereupon the justices demanded a response from the state within four days.
“The amputations of the limbs of both young men could have been prevented if the state had fulfilled its obligation under humanitarian international law,” Sawsan Zahar, an attorney for Adalah, told the justices.
The state’s attorneys, for their part, told the court that, “On the surface, the petitioners’ condition appears to fulfill the medical criterion for receiving a permit [for transfer to Ramallah], but the authorized officials decided not to grant their requests. The main consideration for the refusal stems from the fact that their medical condition is a function of their participation in the disturbances.”
On April 16, Justices Uri Shoham, George Karra and Yael Willner said they were not persuaded that the government had fully considered whether the circumstances in Kronz’s case justified its deviation from normal procedure. “There’s no dispute over the fact that the medical treatment the petitioner needs to prevent the amputation of his leg is unavailable in the Gaza Strip,” they wrote. “Therefore, the petitioner is included among the cases in which entry to Israel is to be permitted for the purpose of passage to Ramallah.”
The justices also deigned to declare that Kronz does not represent a security risk to Israel. That same day, he was moved to Istishari Hospital. (As for Alajuri, before the court got around to issuing a ruling on his case, the doctors in Gaza had had no choice but to amputate his leg. He remains in Gaza.)
Yousef Kronz is now undergoing a rough patch, finding it difficult to adjust to being an amputee. Four days after being brought to the Ramallah hospital he underwent surgery on his right leg, whose condition appears to have been stabilized. Now, however, he faces lengthy rehabilitation, which will last at least four months, in a hospital in Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem.
Before we take our leave, he asks us whether we think he’ll ever be able to walk on one leg.
Cars vandalized and walls spray painted with abusive graffiti in two separate suspected 'price tag' attacks
Two more incidents of suspected anti-Arab hate crimes occurred late Sunday night in two separate places in the West Bank, a day after Israel's security services reported an uptick in the so-called "price tag" attacks.
Cars vandalized and walls spray painted with abusive graffiti in two separate suspected 'price tag' attacks in the West Bank on April 23, 2018
Cars vandalized and walls spray painted with abusive graffiti in two separate suspected 'price tag' attacks in the West Bank on April 23, 2018 Abdullah Hamdan
In one of the incidents, the tires of a number of cars belonging to Palestinians were slashed in the town of Beit Iksa just outside Jerusalem, and graffiti was spray painted on a wall: “Fight the enemy and not the one you love.”
In the other incident, in the town of Ramun near the settlement of Rimonim in the Ramallah area, a number of tires were slashed and graffiti was spray painted, including: “We will take our fate into our hands.”
These two so-called “price tag” incidents follow a number of other, similar cases in the past few weeks. On April 13 unknown people tried to set a mosque on fire in the town of Aqraba in the northern West Bank, on April 17, tires were slashed and graffiti was spray painted in the towns of Luban al-Sharqiya and al-Sawiya. The next day, trees were vandalized and graffiti was spray painted in the town of Urif. On Friday, two similar incidents occurred in the West Bank towns of Burqa and Burin.