The Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday brushed off demands, both domestic and international, for a transparent investigation into the deaths of two Palestinian youths killed by Israeli forces last week.
The pressure follows the emergence of video footage apparently showing two Palestinian youths being shot despite them not posing danger to life.
The ensuing controversy over the incident quickly prompted calls from Washington and the United Nations for a full investigation.
The announcement comes as the parents of slain activist Rachel Corrie appear in the Israeli High Court to appeal against a decision clearing the military of responsibility for her 2003 death. The killing has long shone the international spotlight on the issue of the Israeli military targeting of civilians.
Lieberman Rejects “Hypocrisy”
“I reject any demand” for an international investigation into the 15 May killing of two Palestinians, Lieberman told reporters on a tour of the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
“Such an incident will be investigated regardless of any demand,” he remarked, denouncing world criticism of the incident as “hypocrisy”.
“I regret that these demands don’t come out in other cases,” Liberman continued. “In Syria, close to 170,000 people have been killed, and I did not see any action by the international community to investigate the murders
Closed-circuit video footage was released earlier this week by Defence For Children International and B’Tselem human rights group appeared to show separate incidents in which the two Palestinians were shot as they walked down the same street near Ramallah on Nakba Day. The day, is held annually on 15 May to mark what Palestinians regard as the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation.
Although clashes were taking place in the area, there seems to be no visible evidence of unrest in the footage.
The Israeli army has lashed out at the footage, saying that it had been “edited” and that they were investigating the incident.
However, on Wednesday, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington expects Israel to “conduct a prompt and transparent investigation to determine the facts surrounding this incident.”
A day earlier, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant UN secretary general for political affairs, also called for an “independent and transparent” probe.
He said it was “of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat.”
Directly after the shooting, the European Union also condemned the incident.
“It is important that any such incidents are investigated thoroughly… we reiterate the need for security forces, whether Israeli or Palestinian, to refrain from the use of lethal force, except in cases where there is a real and imminent threat to life,” a statement said last week.
The Palestinian leadership meanwhile took the toughest stance accusing Israel of the “deliberate execution” of Musaab Nuwarah, 20, and Mohammed Udeh, 17.
Palestine Liberation Organization member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement that the youths were unarmed and posed no threat, and accused Israel of using “excessive and indiscriminate violence.”
Israel has said that border police were operating in the area at the time to try to quell a violent demonstration by about 150 Palestinians, and denies using live bullets.
According to the latest UN findings, there has been “a sharp increase” in the number of Palestinian refugees killed and injured by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2013.
According to UNRWA, the numbers of those wounded by live ammunition so far this year has risen to 43 from 10 in the same period in 2013.
Rachel Corrie Inquest
Wednesday also saw the parents of slain activist Rachel Corrie in the Israeli High Court appealing against a decision to clear the military of responsibility in her death.
The parents of the US activist, crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003, allege “negligence” in the treatment of the case by an Israeli court.
Craig Corrie said before the hearing that the 2012 ruling had “ignored the lack of a credible and thorough investigation.”
He warned of the court becoming a “mechanism that allows the Israeli military to act with impunity.”
“As an ex-soldier myself I think that’s very dangerous,” he added.
The 2012 ruling clearing the Israeli military of any responsibility sparked an angry reaction from the family, with Cindy Corrie accusing the Israeli authorities of a cover-up.
(Middle East Eye and agencies – www.middleeasteye.net)