International outcry and condemnation came swiftly on Tuesday following the release of video footage showing two innocent Palestinian teenagers being shot dead by Israeli forces.
According to rights group Defense for Children International — Palestine, which obtained and circulated the security camera footage, Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, sustained fatal gunshot wounds on May 15 by Israeli Defense Forces after participating in a demonstration near the Ofer military prison in the West Bank. The teens were there to mark Nakba (or Catastrophe) Day, which commemorates the 1948 mass displacement of Palestinians, and express solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners currently held in the detention center.
After the video was made public, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco demanded an "independent and transparent" probe into the circumstances surrounding the boys' deaths.
"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," said Fernandez-Taranco.
"The UN calls for an independent and transparent investigation by the Israeli authorities into the two deaths, and urges Israel to ensure that its security forces strictly adhere to the basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials," he said at a briefing of the UN Security Council.
Though the closed circuit television footage showed some rocks being thrown by protesters early on, as one witness reported, "at the moment of the killings, nothing was going on and no stone throwing was taking place."
"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 DCIP. "These acts by Israeli soldiers may amount to war crimes, and the Israeli authorities must conduct serious, impartial, and thorough investigations to hold the perpetrators accountable."
The video below contains graphic and disturbing footage:
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After viewing the video, people demanding accountability for the killings flooded Twitter under the hashtag "#Justice4NadeemandMohammad."
Brad Parker, an attorney and International Advocacy Officer with DCIP, told Vice News that their organization is currently in discussion with the victims' families about pursuing complaints with both the Israeli Army and international bodies. However, he is not optimistic that they will be successful.
"We think the likelihood of having an impartial, open and thorough investigation opened is very slim,” he said. “But we think that the key to child protection in occupied Palestinian territories is accountability, because Israeli soldiers can do whatever they want at the moment with essentially no repercussions.”
The teens' deaths raise the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in 2014 to four, according to data collected by DCIP. Since 2000, over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Reacting to the news, many expressed grief for the other Palestinian children whose deaths were not caught on camera.
I shudder to think how many other unspoken causalities there are or how many Nadeem & Mohammads have been killed. #Justice4NadeemandMohammad
— Anam (@AnamR_Syed) May 20, 2014