Is­raeli teen shot dead by an Egyp­tian of­fi­cer

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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