The Israeli border police officer responsible for shooting and killing Palestinian teenager Nadim Nuwara in 2014 was sentenced on Wednesday by an Israeli court to nine months in prison and a $13,940 (50,000 shekels) fine for negligent homicide.
The Jerusalem district court judge sentenced Israeli officer Ben Deri, saying the “degree of negligence was significant and calls for prison time.”
Despite being convicted in the killing of an unarmed minor, Deri was described by the judge during sentencing as “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders,” according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Deri shot and killed 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara in May 2014, during a demonstration marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba outside of the Ofer detention center near Ramallah. Mohammad Salameh, 15, was killed alongside Nuwara during the protests, though no one was arrested in connection with his death.
Siam Nuwara, Nadim’s father, told Mondoweiss that the nine-month sentence handed down to Deri “does not even come close to justice,” adding that the minimum sentence for negligent homicide should carry seven years in prison.
For years, the family has been fighting to bring Deri to justice for the murder of their son, whose killing was widely publicized after it was caught on CNN and CCTV surveillance camera footage.
After Nuwara’s killing, Deri was arrested and initially charged with second-degree murder.
Israeli security forces denied responsibility for Nuwara’s death on the grounds that live fire wasn’t used during the demonstration, despite eyewitness testimony and video evidence suggesting that it had been used.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said at the time that it was possible that the video had been doctored, without providing an explanation on how the teens were killed. Michael Oren, then Israeli ambassador, also argued that the killings were faked.
Deri and his defense team claimed that he mistakenly killed Nuwara: he “did not know” he was firing live rounds after “accidentally” switching out the rubber bullet magazine with live bullets.
In January 2017, Deri’s charges were significantly reduced, when the Israeli prosecution struck a surprise plea deal with the officer where he pled guilty to negligent murder and aggravated assault charges.
“Today the Israeli court … proved what we all know, there is no justice under occupation,” Siam told Mondoweiss.
Despite Deri’s lenient sentence, Siam said he refuses to give up, and that even though he has “no right under Israeli law to appeal the decision,” he will continue his work to bring international attention to the Israeli court system.
A investigation by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a 2016 report that Israel’s court system routinely postpones or slows down investigations regarding violations against Palestinians, with the intent of pushing families or individuals to eventually drop their cases.
“When my son died I made a decision to dedicate my life to ensure justice, not just for my son Nadim, but for all Palestinian children,” Siam told Mondoweiss.
“Since then I have witnessed case after case of children being killed cold blooded by Israeli soldiers.I refuse to give up, and I refuse to allow more Palestinian children to die in vain. This needs to stop. We need to stop it,” he said.