Police, IDF to probe Ni'ilin boy's death

Border Police says security forces not behind shooting, but Palestinian medics blame IDF troops.

tear gas niilin  224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
tear gas niilin 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
An investigation has been ordered into claims that a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by officers in Ni'ilin in the aftermath of a violent demonstration against the West Bank security barrier, a Border Police spokesman said on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousa was among several boys who went to the site where the barrier was being built outside Ni'ilin, east of Modi'in Illit. There were no security personnel there, and the mostly teenage boys began removing razor wire, said Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall. As they worked, a Border Police jeep drove up. Officers shot rubber bullets and one shot of live ammunition from a distance of about 10 meters, Pollak said. It was this shot that killed Mousa, he claimed. Pollak was in the area at the time but did not see the incident. He based his description on eyewitness testimony; however, he insisted that the officers in question were border policemen and that the Palestinians in the area knew exactly how to recognize them. According to an initial inquiry by Border Police, security forces were not behind the shooting, but Palestinian medics said the boy had been shot in the head by Israeli forces. The IDF said it would investigate further and that it was examining the possibility that the boy had been hit by Palestinian fire. Although Palestinian witness Farah Khawaja said teenage boys in that area had been throwing stones at the time, Pollak and others said Mousa had not been with that group. Pollak spoke to The Jerusalem Post from the Ramallah hospital where Mousa was taken. He said he had seen the boy's body and that there was a bullet hole in the forehead and the back of his head was gone. Muhammad Nafa, one of the demonstrators, said he and others carried Mousa to an ambulance after he was shot, cupping his head with a baseball cap. At a hospital in nearby Ramallah, the boy's family waited at the morgue. Mourners gathered around the boy's father, who leaned against a wall. A paramedic who had driven the ambulance sat on stairs and wept. "We told him not to go down [to the protests], but he wouldn't listen," the boy's aunt, Khadija Mousa, said in a telephone interview. In a press statement distributed by the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, Mousa's physician, Dr. Ayman al-Anatee, said the boy had been dead when he arrived at the hospital at 6:45 p.m. There was "no pulse, no heart rate and no breathing and no reflexes at all. The pupils were fixed and dilated. "On examination we found a small puncture wound to the front of the head, about one centimeter, and there was a large wound in the back of the head" where the bullet exited, Anatee said. A mass demonstration is planned on Wednesday for the boy's funeral. The procession and protest will start at Ramallah Hospital at 10am and make it's way to Nil'in. The mourners intend to defy the military blockade on the town and bring Ahmed home. Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, received permission from Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh to have an IDF doctor inspect the body to try to determine the circumstances of Mousa's death. Mousa is the first fatality in several months of Ni'ilin protests against the security barrier. The demonstrations frequently develop into confrontations between stone-throwing youths and IDF troops firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. On Tuesday, Israeli forces erected a makeshift fence to prevent protesters from reaching bulldozers clearing land for the barrier. Young men and boys gathered nearby and clashed with soldiers and border policemen. Pollak said 18 Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets and that he also saw security forces fire live ammunition. Border police are investigating the allegations that live fire was used against Palestinian demonstrators during that earlier rally against the barrier. "We have checked the issue of live fire once already, and found that none had been used. We are now rechecking this claim," the Border Police spokesman said, adding that regulations stipulated that rubber pellets should be used in such incidents. "Live fire can only be used if an officer feels his life to be in danger," he said. The spokesman said he did not know about Palestinian casualties, but that a border policeman had sustained an eye injury during the disturbance and was hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Two other border policemen and an IDF soldier were lightly wounded. The IDF said about 70 demonstrators had thrown rocks at security forces. It added that OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gabi Shamni was following the investigation closely and that the Civil Administration was conducting a joint medical investigation with the Palestinians. Also on Tuesday, security forces arrested right-wing activists and two Beduin following a clash between them near the Kochav Hashahar settlement that included the firing of shots into the air. The incident occurred during the third day of a week-long hike organized by the Land of Israel Faithful. According to former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss, who led the hike, the group of 150 was surrounded at about 1 p.m. by some 25 Beduin who threw stones and beat some of the hikers with sticks. One of their guards shot in the air in hopes of scaring away the attackers, Weiss said. Within minutes, border policemen emerged from two unmarked cars, she said. Weiss said the officers attacked the armed guards, who were there to protect the hikers. Six hikers were wounded, including four in the head, she said. According to border policemen, wounds were sustained by both Beduin and activists. Five hikers were arrested for violent offenses and allegedly opening fire. One of the two Beduin arrested was released on bail. AP contributed to this report