JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s High Court has doubled the prison sentence of a border policeman who shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian teenager during a Nakba Day riot outside of Ramallah in 2014, Haaretz reported.
He had previously been sentenced to nine months incarceration and a 50,000 shekel ($13,600) fine under a plea deal.
On May 15, 2014, Ben Dery and other members of his Border Police unit were sent to the Beitunia checkpoint outside Ramallah to contain Palestinian demonstrations. Despite being under orders to use rubber bullets, Dery switched to live rounds and shot 17-year-old stone-thrower Nadim Nuwara in the chest, killing him.
Both Nuwara’s parents and Dery’s attorney expressed opposition to the plea agreement. Nuwara’s father derided the “ridiculous sentence,” comparing Dery’s sentence to that of Ahmed Mansara, a thirteen-year-old Palestinian who received nine and a half years in jail for stabbing a Jewish boy in 2015.
Dery attorney Zion Amir, meanwhile, said that while he was “happy about the moderate punishment,” he was “not in complete agreement with my client’s desire to reach a plea bargain. We believed that the totality of evidence in this case should have resulted in complete acquittal.”
Israel’s State Prosecutor appeared to agree with the Palestinian boy’s parents, and in July appealed the sentence, stating that “the district court was mistaken in sentencing Dery to a punishment that does not adequately express the value of protecting human life, nor the severity of his actions or the degree of his guilt.”
“The case before us does raise a difficulty in examining the verdict that was given,” wrote High Court Justice Noam Solberg, according to Haaretz. “This is because we are dealing with a case where he value of human life and the value of preserving purity of arms collide with considerations regarding Dery’s personal circumstances and the background leading to his actions. Taking the rule into one’s own hands, consciously deciding to cause injury facing no danger — this must absolutely not be done.”
Dery’s “degree of negligence was significant and warranted prison time,” stated Justice Daniel Tepperberg.
This case stands in stark contrast to that of Israeli infantryman Elor Azaria, who was convicted of shooting and killing an injured Palestinian terrorist as he lay on the ground on March 24, 2016. Following a public outcry, Azaria’s 14-month sentence was eventually reduced by one-third and he was released from prison after nine months. The case divided Israeli society on the issues of the Palestinians and the military.
Israeli police rejected Azaria’s request for a gun license last week, stating that he posed a danger to the public, Ynet reported.