Preliminary check finds live fire used in Ni'lin protest

Border Police inquiry shows live ammunition used in incident in which 11-year-old boy killed.

Live ammunition was used on Tuesday near Ni'lin, where a 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead in the aftermath of a demonstration against the security barrier, according to a preliminary check carried out by the Border Police on Wednesday. "We found that our officers were in the area at the time of the shooting, and that live fire was used," a Border Police spokesman said. Witnesses have alleged that the boy, Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousa, was shot by a border policeman. The Border Police spokesman said the findings of its investigation had been passed on to Judea and Samaria Police, which will continue to probe the matter. "We are investigating this now," said a Judea and Samaria spokesman. "In any incident where a border policeman is suspected of using live ammunition, we investigate on behalf of the state and the Police Investigations Department," he added. "We are exploring both the child's death and the use of live ammunition during the demonstration." The Palestinian Authority governor of Ramallah, Said Abu Ali, announced that an autopsy conducted Wednesday showed that the boy was shot by live fire. He said the autopsy showed that the boy died after being hit in the head with a bullet from an M-16 rifle. In Ni'lin, hundreds of villagers converged on Mousa's home in the early morning to offer their condolences to the family. The entire village was decorated with large posters of the boy, who has been declared a shahid (martyr). Green Hamas flags were also seen in most parts of the village. The posters showed the smiling boy's picture against a background of the security barrier and an IDF watchtower. The caption accompanying the picture read: "Ni'lin mourns the death of the martyr and hero Ahmed Husam Yusef Mousa, who was martyred on Tuesday evening while resisting the racist separation wall." Hours before Mousa's body arrived from Ramallah, a group of boys gathered near the home chanting slogans against Israel. "We will all become martyrs for the sake of Palestine!" they shouted as one woman ululated in an expression of joy over his "martyrdom." "Ahmed is now in heaven," the woman said as tears dripped down her cheeks. "He's fortunate to have died as a martyr." The boy's family said the shooting was aimed at sending a message to the entire village to stop the daily protests against the construction of the security barrier. The boy's uncle, Hosni, claimed that the border policemen deliberately shot his nephew. "They did it on purpose," he told The Jerusalem Post. "He was just a little boy playing with his friends. He didn't pose any threat to any soldier." "This is a very clear message to the residents of Ni'lin that they must stop the demonstrations against the confiscation of our lands for the construction of the wall," he said. "But we won't be deterred and we will continue to protest until the wall is removed and our lands restored." Eyewitnesses told the Post that the boy was shot when he and some of his friends tried to remove barbed wire that had been erected by the IDF to prevent demonstrators from approaching the construction site. "As the boys were rolling the barbed wires down the hill, an Israeli army jeep arrived at the scene," the eyewitnesses said. "One of the soldiers got out of the jeep and opened fire at the boys, killing Ahmed Mousa instantly." One eyewitness said the soldier opened fire only after he was hit in the head by a stone. "The boys started throwing stones at the jeep," he said. "One of the soldiers who was hit by a stone responded by firing live ammunition toward the stone-throwers." Saleh Khawaja, a local activist involved in the protests, also accused the IDF of deliberately shooting Mousa. He said the shooting was "totally unjustified" because the villagers, together with foreign protesters, were launching a "peaceful" demonstration against the construction of the barrier on their lands. Muhammad Amireh, a relative of the victim, said the family would not demand compensation from the state. "We have no confidence in the Israeli judicial system," he said. "We are sure that they will exonerate the soldier who killed Ahmed. They will say that the soldier was acting in self-defense."