Relatives of an unarmed Palestinian teen killed by an Israeli officer four years ago have slammed a nine-month sentence handed by an Israeli court to the member of the security forces, saying it exposes how “unjust” Israel’s judicial system is.
Israeli border police officer Ben Deri was filmed shooting dead Nadim Nuwarra in May 2014 during a protest at the Beitunia checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, even though the 17-year-old posed no danger.
A second teenage protester, Mohammad Abu Thaher, 16, was also hit with live rounds and killed. Israel did not make an arrest in that case, citing lack of evidence as an autopsy was not carried out.
In a plea bargain, the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday handed Deri a nine-month jail term, an additional six-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay 50,000 shekels ($14,000) in damages to Nuwarra’s family.
Under last year’s plea deal, Deri had his original charge of manslaughter reduced to negligent use of a firearm. Prosecutors accepted Deri’s claim that he had mistakenly loaded a live round into his rifle when he intended to shoot a rubber bullet.
Nuwara’s family at the time called the plea agreement a “trick” and “shame on the Israeli justice system”.
Siam Nuwarra, Nadim’s father, has over the years fought a long legal battle on behalf of his son – from the moment, he says, he found a live bullet in the backpack Nadim was wearing when he was shot dead.
“I have proven that Israel has no justice or fairness when it comes to Palestinians,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I proved this with evidence, because the case of Nadim is one of the strongest cases in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – by evidence, it proves Nadim was intentionally killed.”
‘Unwarranted and unjust decision’
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi also condemned the length of the sentence as “ludicrous”, comparing it to that of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager sentenced to eight months on assault and incitement charges after slapping an Israeli soldier.
“This unwarranted and unjust decision represents a double standard in Israel’s outrageous sentences passed against Palestinians by Israeli military courts while Israeli occupation forces and illegal and extremist settlers are given free license to act with complete impunity,” Ashrawi said in a statement.
Ammar Dweik, of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, agreed.
“Ahed Tamimi is a child who slapped a soldier and received almost the same sentence as a soldier who put an end to the life of a Palestinian child,” he said.
“So you can compare the double standards that the Israeli justice system is following.”
The Israeli police declined to comment on Deri’s sentencing.