Update: CNN’s Ivan Watson has done a terrific account of the shootings of the two teenagers in Beitunia last week, casting serious doubt on Israeli claims that Israelis fired rubber bullets. Watson airs CNN footage of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle when one youth went down, and then shows Siam Nawara, the father of the late Nadeem Nawara, pulling a twisted bullet from his son’s bloodstained backpack, which clearly has a hole in it. The father says he found the bullet in the bag. Watson airs footage of Nawara throwing a rock in the direction of the Israelis but concludes by quoting the U.N.: the youths were unarmed and posed no direct threat to Israeli soldiers.
Could Israel’s horrific killings of two Palestinian youths during a demonstration a week ago become a diplomatic incident? The State Department continues to demand an investigation of the killings, though expressing respect for Israel’s “moral code.” The U.N. also wants an investigation. But Israel’s Foreign Minister tells the U.S. to bug out, accusing the country of “hypocrisy.”
The State Department also said that the shootings took place on Israel’s “soil.” But the youths were killed in the occupied West Bank.
Here’s yesterday’s daily press briefing at State Department by Jen Psaki, at 52:00 in the video above. Matt Lee of AP is asking the questions, as usual, and seems to doubt that Israel is capable of conducting a real investigation into the matter.
QUESTION: Yesterday you called on – you said that you were encouraging Israel to conduct a thorough, transparent investigation of the shooting incident in which these two Palestinian teenagers were killed. The foreign minister of Israel has reacted rather negatively to that and to your – to you in particular, saying that it’s essentially – I don’t want to mischaracterize his quote, but saying that it’s not appropriate for the United States to demand an investigation into an Israeli military activity, that the IDF is the most moral army in the – armed force in the world. And I’m just wondering: Do you stand by the call for the Israelis to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation given the foreign minister’s comments?
MS. PSAKI: We do. And we also have deep respect for the Israeli army’s moral code, which is exactly why there should be an investigation. And I believe in the foreign minister’s comments he also referenced a plan for an investigation or a desire to have an investigation, or the Israelis can call an investigation. We certainly support that. They’re in the lead; it is events happening on their soil, and we would support that effort.
QUESTION: Okay. And you don’t have any concerns about what such a – let me put it this way: Past investigations by the Israelis into their – into alleged Israeli misbehavior or alleged Israeli violence – I don’t know how you would call it – you have been satisfied with them? They have a proven track – do you believe they have a proven track record in self-investigations of this kind?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a sweeping comment about that. But obviously, they are in the lead, they should be in the lead, and we support their efforts to investigate.
QUESTION: All right. And do you have any specific comment about Foreign Minister Lieberman’s response to you and what you said?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t, no. (Laughter.)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman attacked the “hypocrisy” in the American and European request for a thorough investigation into the killings of two Palestinian teenagers, allegedly by the IDF, during the May 15 Nakba Day riots by Ofer Prison near Ramallah.
“We don’t need an American request to investigate the subject,” Liberman said on Wednesday during a visit to Ariel University in the West Bank.
“I reject any request and the hypocrisy we see worldwide,” he said.
Here’s video of the killings, from Nakba Day demonstration on May 15 in Beitunia: