A human rights group has released footage that it says shows Israeli security forces shooting dead two apparently unarmed Palestinian teenagers.
The video released on Tuesday allegedly showed the teenagers, who posed no danger, being shot during a protest last week on Nakba day , when the Palestinians mark the loss of their homes in the 1948 war that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel and the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
There are still question marks around this incident and there is an ongoing investigation.
Defence for Children International (DCI) posted the two-minute video on YouTube, which it said was edited from six hours of surveillance footage from fixed security cameras at a Palestinian-owned business that overlooked the scene.
The group said the video showed that troops had committed “unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting”.
The Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the images back its findings that troops killed the teens without cause by firing live rounds from more than 200 metres away. The soldiers were in “zero danger” at the time, said Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem.
Palestinian hospital officials said Mohammad Abu Thaher and Nadim Nuwara were both shot in the heart. Officials originally gave their respective ages as 22 and 17, but later said they were 16 and 17.
The Palestinian government issued a statement on Tuesday accusing Israel of “cold-blooded murder” and carrying out “a war crime against defenceless children”.
Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organisation condemned the killings “in the strongest possible terms”, saying both shootings were “deliberate executions”.
“Israel’s use of excessive and indiscriminate violence and live ammunition at non-violent Palestinian demonstrations constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law,” she told the AFP news agency.
The Israeli military said a preliminary investigation indicated that security personnel fired rubber bullets and not live ammunition during the May 15 clashes outside Israel’s Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
However, it said that two investigations, one by military police, were still under way.
“There are still question marks around this incident and there is an ongoing investigation,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman. “In parallel, a military police investigation has also been opened,” he said.
No uniformed Israeli troops can be seen in the video footage and there is no audio.
The initial video shows a youth preparing to hurl a stone from the end of a street. Seven minutes later, according to a time stamp on the film, a young man is seen falling over, felled by apparent gunfire, as he walks down the street.
A group of bystanders are then seen to duck at the same moment. And an hour later, a second youth collapses to the ground as he walks away from the area.
The UN and the US called for an investigation into the incident.
“It is of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat,” Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant UN secretary-general for political affairs, said.
He said the UN urged Israel “to ensure that its security forces strictly adhere to the basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials”.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said her office was seeking additional information from the Israeli government in order to determine whether the soldiers’ use of force was justified.
“We look to the government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident, including whether or not the use of force was proportional to the threat posed by the demonstrators,” Psaki said.