On May 15, 2014, two Palestinian children were shot and killed by Israeli forces in the town of Beitunia. Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, were participating in protests to mark Nakba Day. Nawara was shot in the chest, while Abu Daher was shot in the back. Both were killed by live fire. Both deaths were captured on security cameras installed on a nearby shop. These videos show the teenagers to be distant from the Israeli forces and posed no immediate threat to them.
The following report was undertaken at the request of the human rights organization Defence for Children International Palestine (DCI-P) acting on behalf of the parents of the deceased. It recreates the events of May 15 through analyses of the videos of the killing, the space where the killings took place and the sounds they contain. There is more detailed video documentation of Nawara’s death than Abu Daher. The first part of our analysis focuses on the killing of Nawara. It shows that it was an Israeli Border Policeman that fired upon Nawara, identifies the shooter, and demonstrates that he was firing live ammunition. The shooter’s actions undertaken to cover up for his actions are exposed. It suggests that the killing was intentional and premeditated. Without the same amount of visual information in the case of Abu Daher’s killing we turned to sound analysis. An analysis of the sound of the shot that killed Abu Daher was compared to the shot that killed Nawara and other shots fired that day. We determined that the shot that killed Abu Daher was similar to the one that killed Nawara.
The Israeli military opened an investigation into the cause of death of the two protestors. It initially concluded that the Israeli forces present did open fire in the direction of the protestors, yet that no live fire was used. However, on the 12th of November, 2014, both Israeli and Palestinian press reported that an Israeli border policeman had been taken into custody in connection with the events of May 15.
Our investigation was conducted in four stages.
One publicly available video, shot by a local CNN crew, shows Israeli soldiers discharging their weapons twice in the direction of protestors, and a security camera video shows Nawara being mortally wounded. Our analysis identified a key moment captured in both videos to establish a synchronization point. Videos have a consistent amount of frames every second. To establish who shot Nawara we needed to find the same moment in both videos and to rewind the footage to see which of the soldiers shoots at the moment when Nawara was hit. By synchronizing the videos we determined that the Israeli soldier discharged his weapon at the precise moment when Nawara was shot.
A two-dimensional plan of the site was drawn based on geographical data obtained from public sources and survey plans provided by the Bitunia municipality A three-dimensional model was built based of measurements and a detailed photographic survey conducted on site. The locations of the security cameras and the CNN camera were positioned in this three-dimensional space. The locations of each of the Israeli soldiers shown shooting at the protestors and the location of Nawara were identified and positioned within the model. Two soldiers were identified as having discharged their weapon in the CNN video. Using the three-dimensional model, we drew the line of sights for both soldiers, and found that only one had a clear view to the position of Nawara when he was shot. This soldier is the same soldier who was identified in our video synchronization for having shot at the exact moment Nawara was mortally wounded.
By comparing videos of other soldiers firing M16 rifles, we showed that when firing live ammunition the empty cartridge is automatically ejected from the chamber. When rubber coated steel bullets are fired the empty cartridge is not automatically ejected. By identifying the immediate discharge of an empty cartridge after an Israeli soldier shoots, we demonstrated that the border policeman fired live ammunition.
For the Audio Forensics we engaged the services of sound specialist Lawrence Abu Hamdan to undertake a comparison of the sound of the gunshots contained on the video. By analysing the shot’s sonic signature, it was possible to identify the acoustic characteristics of live ammunition being fired through a rubber bullet extension. Firing live ammunition through a rubber bullet extension suppresses the shot’s sound in a comparable, yet distinct way to silencer. By comparing the sound signature of Nawara’s shooting to Abu Daher’s, a pattern emerges which shows that both deaths were the result of Israeli security personnel masking the firing of live ammunition through a rubber coated extension.