Israeli teen shot dead by an Egyptian officer
An Israeli Bedouin teenager shot dead while working along the Egyptian border appears to have been killed by Egyptian forces in error, an Israeli source said yesterday. Nimr Abu Ammar from the southern town of Laqiya was shot on Tuesday as the 15-year-old took part in maintenance work on the border fence. The Israeli army had initially said that the “shooting does not appear to be connected to terror activities,” without providing further details.
An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue said the shooter was a member of the Egyptian security forces, who apparently mistook the youth for a militant. According to the official, initial findings showed that the work was taking place in a “no-man’s land” where there are “quiet understandings with the Egyptians regarding the Israeli presence there.” The official said the initial findings showed that an Egyptian officer at the site “mistakenly thought the boy was planting a mine”-while he in fact was making coffee for the crew of Israeli laborers and his father, who was working there.
An Israeli military spokeswoman would only confirm that the shooting was by Egyptian security forces. Speaking on army radio yesterday, Abu Ammar’s father, Bassam, blamed the Israeli security forces for insufficiently protecting his son. “They didn’t tell him ‘put on a helmet, put on a protective vest,’” he said of the Israeli army. “I blame the defense ministry. They didn’t respond on the spot.” He said Egyptian officers first told them to move, but before giving them a chance to do so opened fire.
Israeli media reported that soldiers did not return fire because they realized it was a mistake. According to the defense ministry, Nimr Abu Ammar was working for a sub-contractor of the company in charge of border fence maintenance, and had gone to work there along with family members. The Israeli official criticized the contractors for enabling minors to work, as well as those who brought their children to work. The shooting occurred in the Har Harif area midway along the 240-kilometre border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Israel. Jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group are waging a deadly insurgency in the Sinai.
In the same area in 2012, an Israeli soldier and three militants who infiltrated from Sinai were killed in a clash along the border. Banditry and drug trafficking also occur in the area. In 2014, the 15-yearold son of an Arab Israeli defense ministry contractor was killed on the Golan Heights when a blast hit the car he was travelling in with his father and another contractor, both of whom were wounded. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel, which has been keen to improve ties with Cairo. Earlier this year, the Israeli military’s deputy chief of staff said his country had seen “unprecedented” intelligence cooperation with the two nations. —AFP