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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Palestinian father to take case of son's Israeli killer to ICC

Siam Nuwara says he will not give up his fight for justice, years after shooting

Nadim Siam Nuwara, 17, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier on May 15, 2014. (via Facebook)
Nadim Siam Nuwara, 17, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier on May 15, 2014. (via Facebook)

A Palestinian father seeking a long sentence for the former Israeli paramilitary policeman who killed his teenage son is to take the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC), after a judge delivered only a nine-month jail term.

Ben Deri shot dead unarmed 17-year-old Nadeem Nuwara from a distance at a Nakba Day protest in the West Bank town of Beitunia on May 15, 2014.

In the plea deal, Deri was charged with causing death through negligence as well as severe bodily harm, which carried a maximum sentence of three years. The original charge of manslaughter was changed under the deal. But Nuwara's father says his battle for justice will continue regardless of the Israeli court ruling, which was delivered on Wednesday.

"I want to take this case to the International Criminal Court... to pursue justice for my son," Siam Nuwara, 46, told The National from Jerusalem after the sentencing and before heading to the Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers. "We need international control of the Israeli courts.

"All the world must talk of this case and how Ben Deri killed my son, and how the Israeli courts have not punished him." He says he will go to the ICC when he has finished "all the details with the Israeli court".

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The rally that the teenager attended was held to commemorate what Palestinians say is their day of "catastrophe" when Israel was created and displaced hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians.

By Palestinian accounts, Nadeem was not a hardened militant, but a normal teenage boy who liked to play basketball and play with his friends.

Surveillance footage showed him at the protest, appearing to pose no danger to Israeli soldiers when the shot was fired. Deri's legal team argued that he accidentally switched a rubber bullet for a live bullet, firing it into Nadeem's chest.

The parents of late Palestinian teenager Nadeem Nuwara, who was killed during clashes by an Israeli policeman in 2014 in Beitunia in the occupied West Bank, are seen at the district court in Jerusalem on April 25, 2018. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP Photo
The parents of late Palestinian teenager Nadeem Nuwara, who was killed during clashes by an Israeli policeman in 2014 in Beitunia in the occupied West Bank, are seen at the district court in Jerusalem on April 25, 2018. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP Photo

Mr Nuwara compares the sentence to that of 13-year-old Ahmed Mansara to express the injustice he feels. Mansara stabbed an Israeli teenager in East Jerusalem in October 2015 and received 13 years in prison for attempted murder.

"He didn’t kill anyone. But Ben Deri killed a child. An innocent child, with no valid reason," he said.

The Israeli court appeared to agree with Nuwara’s father. It ruled that the lethal shot was fired after protesters had stopped throwing stones.

"Contrary to regulations, and despite the fact that the deceased posed no threat to the (Israeli) unit, the defendant aimed his weapon at the torso of the deceased and fired at the deceased with the intent of injuring him."

The killing of Nuwara not only provoked Palestinian ire, but it became an obsession for his father, who gave up his business of three West Bank hair salons, one near Nablus and two in Ramallah. He collected as much evidence as he could about his son's death, even exhuming his body to prove that his son's torso had an exit wound from a lethal bullet.

Ben Deri, a 24-year-old Israeli policeman was convicted of the killing. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP Photo
Ben Deri, a 24-year-old Israeli policeman was convicted of the killing. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP Photo

"There is no justice in Israel. I collected all the evidence. I gave them strong evidence," he said, becoming emotional. "This is the strongest case in Israel and Palestine."

The case has similar tones to that of Israeli soldier Elor Ezaria, who was sentenced to 18 months on a manslaughter charge after being filmed on camera shooting a motionless Palestinian attacker in the head. Before the sentencing, Mr Nuwara had predicted what he says was a similarly lenient sentence to that of Azaria for Deri.

The toll of his son's killing on both him and his family has been immeasurable, and Wednesday's sentencing has only added to their suffering, he says.

"The situation is very hard," he says, adding that there is a "great depression" in the West Bank family home where Nadeem's father, mother, sister and brother live.

"I'm the father and my son is not here today. He is not in his room," he said. "I want my son."