Israeli border policeman Ben Deri has been sentenced to just nine months in prison after being convicted of negligent homicide after shooting dead 16-year-old Nadim Nuwara on Nakba Day four years ago.
Under a plea deal, Deri was today ordered to pay 50,000 shekels ($13,960) in compensation for Nuwara’s death, and will only serve seven months in prison as the sentence includes time served, proving correct the Nuwara family’s predictions that the officer would receive a lenient verdict.
“If Nadim had been the one to have killed Ben Deri, and if he had negligently killed him, would the court have treated Nadim the same way it has been treating Deri?” Nuwara’s father told the court earlier this year.
Nadim and another Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Daher, were killed during an unarmed Nakba Day protest on 15 May 2014, in the Palestinian town of Beitunia, near Ramallah. After a video of the shooting emerged clearly showing Israeli occupation forces targeting the teenagers, the US State Department called for the incident to be investigated.
In December 2014, Deri was indicted for manslaughter, but his case has experienced some 50 hearing delays, including cancellations, the dismissal of the first judge due to personal connections with a witness, and the delayed appointment of the second judge.
Cleared of the charge of manslaughter and convicted instead of negligent homicide earlier this year, the prosecution had requested that Deri be sentenced to between 20 to 27 months in prison. Deri admitted to firing at the Palestinian child’s chest, but claimed that he did not realise it was live ammunition as opposed to a rubber-coated metal bullet.
The prosecution also noted that Deri “has expressed no regret and taken no responsibility”.
I lost my son, and I turned to the law… but I was surprised that after all of the evidence we submitted, the decision in the end was to convict of negligent homicide, and this caused a lot of problems for us
Nuwara’s father concluded at the hearing in January.
At the sentencing Deri’s lawyer rejoiced that his client was cleared of manslaughter, but condemned the fact that the trial was held at all, arguing that soldiers should not be prosecuted in such circumstances.
Israeli forces have admitted on multiple occasions that they regularly shoot at unarmed Palestinians using live ammunition in the West Bank, despite them not constituting a security risk.
Few soldiers face repercussions of any kind; last year the Israeli military police announced that an army officer who opened fire on a car of Palestinian civilians returning from a swimming trip, killing a 15-year-old boy, would face no charges.