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May 23, 2014 11:48 am

Israeli Ballistics Expert Casts Doubt Over Bullet Claimed to Be Found in Bitunia Shootings

avatar by Joshua Levitt

The bullet supposedly found at the scene of the Beitunia shooting. Photo: CNN / Screenshot.

The bullet supposedly found at the scene of the Bitunia shooting. Photo: CNN / Screenshot.

As the Israeli government continues to investigate what really happened in Bitunia, where edited security camera footage showed two Palestinian Arabs dying from off-screen fire, an Israeli ballistics expert on Friday cast doubt over the bullet claimed to be found on one of the victims.

In a report on Thursday, CNN broadcast an interview of Siam Nouwaran, the father of one of the victims, who held up a bullet he said was found in his son’s backpack.

Nouwaran told CNN that it was found “Inside, the backpack, a blood-stained textbook and a bullet, not a rubber-coated projectile.”

The CNN reporter asked, “You think that this is the bullet that killed your son?”

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Nouwaran responded, “Yeah, of course. Inside the bag. I found it inside the bag.”

Ballistics expert Yosef Yekutiel, according to an interview Friday on Israel’s Channel 2 television, flagged by CAMERA, said that if the bullet actually went through the victim’s body the way it was claimed by the Palestinian doctors who said they examined him, the shell would look entirely different.

“This bullet, if it did what the doctor claims, passed through the chest, came out through the body hit the backpack and passed through several books – this bullet didn’t do that,” Yekutiel said.

Everyone who understands bullets, knows that the moment it passes through the chest, the torso and hits some sort of bone, it ends up with a distortion,” he said. “The moment it enters and hits the papers of the books it is expected to be crushed in the front section in a very prominent manner.”

The first edited video, released by Palestinian branch of Defense for Children International and now seen 500,000 times, caused an international uproar, with the added poignancy of it coinciding with ‘Nakba Day,’ the Palestinian holiday commemorating the defeat of invading Arab armies by Israel in 1947.

In a statement released with the video, DCI-Palestine said, “Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the back. Both boys were transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where they were pronounced dead.”

Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine, said, “The images captured on video show unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting. These acts by Israeli soldiers may amount to war crimes, and the Israeli authorities must conduct serious, impartial, and thorough investigations to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”

Global media rushed to condemn the IDF and the U.S. and the UN urged Israel to formally investigate, but the many inconsistencies in the video cast a wider shadow on the veracity of its claims. In Israel, the case is already being declared the work of “Pallywood” and “Al Dura Redux,” in reference to a similar story, in 2000, when edited video footage was also used to condemn the IDF, although forensic evidence later found it impossible to reconstruct based on the actual location of the IDF soldiers.

An Israeli M16 rifle equipped with the rubber bullet extension and, inset, rubber bullets encased in a metal sleeve next to a regular bullet. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

An Israeli M16 rifle equipped with the rubber bullet extension and, inset, rubber bullets encased in a metal sleeve next to a regular bullet. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

In the Bitunia videos, the IDF troops, who were sent to disperse 150 Palestinian Arabs throwing rocks and burning tires, can be seen holding rifles equipped with the extension used to fire rubber bullets, as per the IDF’s rules of engagement, corroborating an official statement this week that “no live fire was discharged during the day.”

In the multiple videos since released, the victims appear far from any confrontation and are shown running towards the direction where fire would supposedly be coming from, rather than away from it. And what has particularly triggered suspicions over the film, at minute 1:30, as one of the victims fell, a cameraman and photographer are on the scene just seconds later.

Blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote, “B’Tselem released the entire video, along with the same scenes from the opposite angle. There is no apparent rock throwing at the time, only a burning tire in the street. The fast reaction to the first incident, with the victim being carried away within seconds towards an ambulance that is only arriving  immediately after he is shot in the second CCTV video is very strange.”

Watch the video from Defense for Children International below.

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