As with any incident between Israel and Palestine, the case in-front of us cannot be judged detached from the historical context that created it and the political predispositions that interpret it. And yet, some truths do not derive from the pages of history and seem to self proclaim their independence from any specific time or context. One such moral truth, is the rejection of the act of murder, in any form it may appear.
This text is an investigation into the killing of Nadeem Nawara, and the trial of the soldier who shot him, Ben Deri. It is designed to walk you through all the evidence of the case, so you can derive your own conclusions (though i certainly share my own):
Is Deri a clumsy hero who made a technical ammunition mistake – as his defense and Israel would have you believe – or a serial killer of Palestinians, who carefully planned to conceal live fire as non-lethal rubber coated bullets, motivated by nationalism and racism towards Palestinians and Arabs?
As the incident before us was widely covered throughout the world and gave rise to many conspiracy theories that attacked every detail and piece of evidence, this text is quite lengthy, as it in turn tackles back each of these theories. From objective non-Israeli eyes, this might seem ridiculous or insane, but in Israel (and pro-Israel spheres) the objective eyes are considered naive if not antisemitic. For many if not most Jewish-Israelis, all Palestinians killed by Jews were terrorists and all the Jews who killed them are heroes, until proven otherwise beyond unreasonable doubt.
I realize that many find the forensic and legal investigation of a criminal case to be boring, but i believe that the more you go down the rabbit hole and the twists and turns of this trial, the more you’ll find it captivating. In many ways, it will also give you a picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole, and the current Israeli beliefs and rationalizations, with regards to killing of Arabs by the armed forces.
In any case, laziness does not exonerate us: the accused, and he alone, enjoys the presumption of innocence. All that his and Israel’s uninformed supporters and defenders could prove, is innocence due to ignorance. And from the rag of ignorance, one cannot wring innocence – even with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.
On the other hand, the purpose of this article is not to generalize: A criminal amongst us (Israelis) is not proof of the criminals that are us. But those who knowingly acquit the guilty, are equally guilty of the crime.
It is common belief in Israel, that the Israeli army is the world’s most moral army, while simultaneously believing that it is immoral to judge soldiers in that army, for any crime they might commit against Palestinians. But infallibility is fallibility at its prime, and morality unquestioned, is without question immoral.
The following is the English translation of the original Hebrew investigation, which can be found here. Please excuse any grammar mistakes or just general linguistic awkwardness, as this isn’t my native tongue (but do leave a comment and I’ll fix the issue mentioned).
Eishton is an Israeli anonymous investigative blog, which relies solely on donations from its readers. The following post is the result of roughly 350 hours of research, writing and editing + 80 hours for the English translation. If you found the content worthy, please donate by clicking here.
Table of Contents:
The table of contents is for technical purposes only, so don’t waste your time reading through it. Clicking on the subjects will take you to that specific location and then you can copy that link from the browser, if you want to share directly to a certain sub-section.
- Those Gullible Lefties – synopsis of the incident and Israel’s immediate response
- The Fake Palestinian Elephant in the Room – how Israelis came to auto-dismiss Palestinian documentation as Pallywood
- Not your average lawyer – Tzion Amir and his relationship with the judge and prosecution
- The Defense’s Narrative
- Removing The Fake Palestinian Elephant From The Room
- Inside The Courtroom – Issues that arose during the trial thus far
- Conspiracy Theories – Raised by Deri’s defense
- M16 Vs. AK-47
- Deri Didn’t Fire a Live Bullet
- Deri Didn’t Have a Line of Fire
- The Line of Fire Was Blocked by the Parking Tractor
- Nawara Wasn’t There
- Nawara Was Killed Prior to the Event and his body was used to frame Deri
- Nawara is still alive
- Nawara was shot by Israeli soldiers stationed on “the surface”
- Nawara was shot by an unknown sniper
- Nawara faked his fall and was later killed by Palestinians
- The Body in the autopsy wasn’t Nawara’s
- The bullet mix-up theory – The theory behind the plea deal offered to Deri
- The sterile war room – the process of loading the blank magazines
- The chain of mix-ups – the number of random mistakes needed for a live round to reach a blank magazine
- The sole mix-up theory – Deri played with the magazines and accidentally switched a live round with a blank
- The initial inquiry
- It isn’t “a single mistake” – does negligence align with recurrence?
- Yalllla! – Deri’s craving for action
- Response to the interrogation
- Response to the event
- Where are the rubber bullets?!
- With Rubber bullets but with no explosion?
- Your Verdicts
- Beyond Deri – the systemic problems behind the case
- Epilogue – My personal thoughts on the case and what it says about us (Israelis)
Thursday, may 15th 2014, 13:45pm – During a Nakba Day stone throwing demonstration in Beitunia, Palestine, Ben Deri, a border police officer (which in Israel is basically another part of the army), was caught on tape shooting Nadeem Nawara, as he was walking unarmed:
Roughly an hour later and almost in the same location, Mohammad Abu Daher was shot in the back, as he was walking away from Deri and his force:
Two more Palestinians were injured by live fire during the protest (in the chest and arm) but Nawara and Abu Daher did not survive.
The security cameras footage was watched the world over, and right from the start Israel and Pro-Israel crowds (mostly in the US) claimed that the video is fake or as they call it, “pallywood”, meaning Palestinian-Hollywood: directed and scripted movies, designed to frame Israeli soldiers of unjustly attacking\killing Palestinians.
Israel’s politicians, army and media, either gave rise to these theories or backed them up. Deri and his force claimed to have only shot rubber coated bullets that day. In Israel, the whole incident became a joke which supposedly exposes the patheticness of the Palestinian Pallywood and those gullible bleeding heart lefties, who buy in to it. This view is most clearly demonstrated in a series of YouTube clips which started appearing in the days following the incident, such as the following clip, which according to its cynical creators “was recorded by a reliable Betzelem (Israeli human rights organization) volunteer and is corroborated by an eye witness testimony from Stevie Wander”:
But a month later all those voices vanished discretely as the autopsy of Nawara’s body, conducted in-front of Israeli, American and Norwegian pathologists, concluded Nawara was shot by a live bullet. The fragments found in his body matched the bullet found in his backpack (after it traveled through his body), and the bullet in turn, matched Deri’s rifle.
Abu Daher’s family decided not to exhume his body. Generally speaking, Israel doesn’t actively and seriously tries to investigate suspected killings\attacks of Palestinians, if not forced to do so by evidence handed over by the Palestinians themselves (or some human rights organization). As such, Deri wasn’t charged with the killing of Daher or the attempted killings of the two injured. Nadeem’s father, Siam, on the other hand, backed Israel to a corner as he went on CNN and said he demands an autopsy in front of international representatives.
But despite all the evidence you just read about (and much more to come), which sound like an open and shut case, a few weeks ago the prosecution offered Deri a plea deal, convicting him only with criminally negligent homicide. On Jan 29 2017, Deri accepted the deal.
So how did we go from a fake Pallywood incident, to multiple murders, to a single manslaughter charge, and finally a technical mishap? Is Israel truly conducting a just trial or just seeks the appearance of one? Is this a serial killer or a brave warrior tormented by lawyers & lefties, whom aspire to “tie the hands of the soldiers”, as the Facebook protest surrounding the case claims?
The Fake Palestinian Elephant in the Room
As we’ve seen, prior to the trial all sorts of conspiracy theories arose, clearing Deri of blame and placing it on Palestinian Pallywood. On any other trial, these insanely complex theories would have been dismissed as preposterous. But our Israeli judges and the Judges that we become as Israelis when exposed to such incidents, are all a product of our informal education, which guides us towards a predisposition to favor the Jewish soldier over the Palestinian stone thrower, without it requiring a single racist thought.
For the past 2 decades, Israelis have been told – perhaps indoctrinated – that there exists a vast cinematic industry in Palestine, called “Pallywood”, which produces frame-up movies of Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians (Note: we aren’t talking about lies, incitements or edited content, but actual video productions with scripts, directors and actors). Thus, for Israelis, the denial of documented wrong-doing doesn’t require active racism. An elaborate scheme fitting of a “mission Impossible” movie, becomes not only a plausible explanation, but rather the obvious one, which isn’t a burden on the accused soldier to prove, but a requirement from the dead Palestinian to disprove.
It is in that state of mind, that Israel’s minister of defense (at the time), went on national TV, prior to even seeing the footage, and explained: “I’ve seen many such edited movies and i know this tactic”. But in reality, he hasn’t. Non of us have. We just feel like we have.
I’m not going to get into this subject in length, but suffice to say that in the 50 years of Israeli occupation beyond the 1967 border, and more than a 100 years of conflict, there are only 2 incidents that the Palestinians are even suspected (by Israelis) of directing a fake live event: The death of Muhammad Al-Durrah and “the fake funeral“.
The funeral doesn’t involve any Israelis at all. So contrary to common belief and whats echoed in the media, there is only one instance were Palestinians are suspected of Pallywood incorporating Israeli forces (which obviously makes it very hard to do, as they are not “in on it”) – and even that instance, has never been proven as Pallywood (Because Al-Durrah’s body wasn’t exhumed and because the army, claiming operational necessity, bulldozed the wall behind Al-Durrah, before anyone could test the bullets inside it).
Part of the negligence by the prosecution in Deri’s case, is not the result of not doing their regular job, but rather that it didn’t or chose not to understand, that its normal standard would be insufficient for this case. If a single case of Pallywood, which hasn’t even been proven, was sufficient for most Israeli to believe that Pallywood is not only real but common enough to justify an acquittal, than the prosecution should have prepared the case for that standard (as unfair or constitutionally unjust as that is).
On top of that, the Palestinians are represented by lawyers of varied capabilities and experience, appointed by the state, while the soldier is free to choose his own lawyer. Usually it’s just the “normal” case of the rich-over-poor advantage, that we all know exists in the criminal system. But this becomes significant because even poor soldiers, such as Deri, are crowdfunded by thousands of Israelis and far-right organizations, who back up any Jew in Israel accused of killing or attacking Palestinians (Same people who backed Deri also backed the settlers who fire bombed the Dawabsha family or the settlers who kidnapped Mohammed Abu Khdeir, beat him, forced petrol down his throat, and burnt him to death, from the inside out).
Though i don’t claim to have any evidence of an attempt to self-fail by the prosecution and the state, we do know that virtually no evidence or witnesses were added, above the ones who came forward on their own (mostly through Nawara’s family). Critical tests failed to produce results (such as DNA identification of the body) and the prosecution chose not to repeat those tests. The two prosecutors chosen for the case, are not well known or very experienced with murder trials. The judge presiding the case, Daniel Taperberg, was previously a family court judge, and this is his first criminal case. Now add all that to the initial and routine conflict of interest, that an Israeli court is deciding weather the Israeli army has committed a crime against people who are considered an enemy of Israel, and you can see how the deck was stacked against the Nawara family.
So, in this uneven light, let us mention the obvious:
An instant or two from the past, where the crime at trial was faked or an accused was framed, is not a reason for acquittal. There’s literally no crime in the criminal law books that looking back 50 years, you wont be able to find cases that turned out to be false accusations, frame-ups, forged evidence, etc (with no Palestinian involved). And we don’t set people free because of these rare exceptions.
Just to clarify the point, we have dozens of Israeli soldiers who were convicted in Israeli courts of killing\attacking Palestinians for no reason. Yet we don’t accept a generalization based on these incidents, claiming that the Israeli army as a whole, is immoral. But then, if dozens of incidents don’t justify a generalization, than surely just one or two in fifty years, do not. Or if we flip it:
If one (unproven) case of Pallywood is sufficient evidence by your standard, for dismissing all Palestinian footage of Israeli crimes as fake, then by that same standard, dozens of (proven) cases of soldiers attacking Palestinians, require that even without footage, we shall accept such claims as true.
Obviously i don’t agree with either. All i ask, is that you remain objective.
Not Your Average Lawyer:
So while the state chose two non-exceptional prosecutors for the case, Deri’s crowdfunding raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, allowing him to afford one of the best criminal lawyers in Israel: Tzion Amir.
Amir has represented politicians, celebrities, heads of crime-families, and in our field, many killers of Arabs (including the two mentioned above: the Dawabsha’s fire-bombing and Abu Khdeir torching) and of left-wingers (including a co-conspirator to the murder of prime-minister Yitzhak Rabin).
Amir is most definitely a trial lawyer, aware of the false belief that trials are an objective process, of mathematically valuing evidence. He pushes the judge’s “Jew-button” as much as he can, even though the victim never hurt a Jew and Deri isn’t claiming self-defense. He systematically interrupts the prosecutors with disrespect bordering cursing, while calling them “girls” (the prosecutors are two women) and successfully manipulates the trial to his advantage. He walks into and widens all the gaps left in the investigation, by the negligent prosecution. All the while, he is well aware of the prosecution’s limited time and resources, and so he delays and prolongs, dragging the trial for as long as possible (50 court-dates were canceled thus far. almost of all of them at the request of the defense), all for the purpose of strong-arming the prosecution into a lenient plea-deal – not by the merits of the evidence, but by the short-coming of the process and system themselves. This strategy, as can be deduced from the negligence plea-deal signed with the prosecution, has worked.
The Defense’s Narrative
Contrary to their representation on TV, real criminal trials aren’t a battle between two clear narratives. While the prosecution explained what it believes happened, the defense only casts doubt on that explanation, while raising many theories and exonerating possibilities (many of whom contradict amongst themselves. A tactic known in courts as “Argument in the alternative“):
Nobody fired, if someone fired Deri wasn’t the shooter, if he was it wasn’t live fire, if it was no one was hurt, if someone was hurt it wasn’t the person seen falling down, if it was than that person wasn’t Nawara.
On top of all of these, the defense also claims a parallel theory:
Deri did shoot live fire that did kill Nawara, but he thought he was shooting rubber coated bullets.
As a good attorney ought to do, Amir points the flashlight to wherever doubt is found (and even where it isn’t), to the point where you lose sight of the big picture and all you see is uncertainty.
Since the defense doesn’t provide a single definitive version of what Deri claims happened that day, i will now deal with all the options they raised – from the reasonable ones to the conspirative and irriational.
before we start, a quick word from judge Alfred Denning, on the burden of proof and what is required in order to find a man guilty of a crime:
“It need not reach certainty, but it must carry a high degree of probability. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. The law would fail to protect the community if it permitted fanciful possibilities to deflect the course of justice. If the evidence is so strong against a man as to leave only a remote possibility in his favour which can be dismissed with the sentence “Of course it is possible but not in the least probable”, the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt; nothing short will suffice.”
Removing The Fake Palestinian Elephant From The Room
As we’ve seen, the case sparked many claims of Pallywood, based on what is seen in the footage from the incident. We shall now run quickly through these claims, and dismiss them.
Ironically, all these theories of directed and staged death scenes, that come up every time footage of Palestinians getting shot by Israelis emerges, is mostly based on the fact that we are used to seeing people getting shot on movies that really are fake – AKA Hollywood. In other words, we are blaming Palestinians for faking death scenes, because their death scenes don’t look fake.
Why does Nawara break his fall with his hands?
As Nawara crashes to the ground, he extends his hands to break his fall. But if the shot killed him, how can that be? why doesn’t he fall like in the movies and instead protects himself in such a phony way?!
Roughly at the age of 6 months, as we start to crawl and approach walking, all babies develop a defensive reflex called the parachute reflex:
Unless the bullet went through the brain or severed the spine, most falls will be accompanied by the parachute reflex. Nawara (and all the others shot that day), were not hit in these locations. Since they didn’t die immediately, they also chose to role and not remain face flat on the floor (as anyone would).
If Nawara was shot in the chest, why isn’t he blown backwards?
Another TV myth… this one i need not explain for TV giveth and TV taketh away. “The Mythbusters” dedicated a whole episode to trying to move a body with a bullet. Watch if you wish, as they move from guns, to rifles and almost cannons, and still fail to get any movement resembling the “Blown away” effect you see in the movies (Animal lovers warning: they test with a pig’s body):
Can you shoot live rounds through the rubber bullets launcher extension?
A few days after the incident, Israel pretty much proved that the Palestinians were lying:
the extension seen on Deri’s gun is meant for rubber bullets only, and a live round could not have been fired through it.
This claim was not advertised by random internet trolls. This came directly from the IDF’s spokesperson, then repeated by Israeli politicians on CNN. The greatest effect (for Israelis) came from the prime time testimony of Yosef Yekutiel, who is an Israeli weapons expert who works with the IDF and the police, who almost laughed at the Palestinian accusation:
If this claim was true, it means the Palestinians were lying and the whole thing was Pallywood. And so i did the naive thing and went searching for the extension’s manual in the Israeli manufacturer’s website, and it turns out the weapons expert and the army itself were wrong:
Why is there no blood?
The myth of the squirting blood also derives from the movies. Unless we’re looking at a head-shot or a severed artery close to the surface of the skin (like in the neck), a regular bullet wound will not produce squirts of blood or intense and immediate external bleeding. The security cams are not high definition, but you can see in this photo of the second victim that day, Abu Daher, that there was blood:
M16 bullets create small entry and exit wounds, and most of the damage is internal (as was found in autopsy in this case). Like a leaking pipe inside a wall, it takes time for a significant amount of blood to leak out of the wounds.
Another myth is that there should be blood on Nawara’s entry wound, on his chest. M16 bullets are so fast, that as they move through the body they create sub-pressure behind them, and suck organs and liquids after them. That’s why, contrary to Hollywood, you are more likely to see blood from an exit wound than an entry wound. Nawara’s exit wound was covered by his backpack (which we will get into later), and so you see nothing. Abu Daher was shot in the back, and that’s why we see blood on his exit wound in the chest.
As for blood stains on the floor – both victims were lifted within seconds of getting shot and carried to an ambulance. Since blood doesn’t flows out like in the movies, there wasn’t and shouldn’t have been any blood stains.
Notice how every Pallywood accusation, actually proves the opposite:
If someone was directing a fake event and doing so as it’s done in the movies, we would have seen many things that would make sense to us (Nawara would have been blown back from the bullet without breaking his fall with his hands and while squirting blood all over), but would actually indicate real “Pallywood”. They accuse them of Pallywood, because it doesn’t look like the “real deaths” of Hollywood.
Were the videos edited or manipulated?
The video was first collected by Palestinian intelligence. They copied the content (later gave it to an NGO which published it) and when the Hard-drives were returned to the shop’s owner, they were erased. The owner testified they do it so Israeli forces wont get the footage showing the faces of the stone throwers, and than arrest them (as they do).
At first only 2 minute segments of each victim’s footage were released. A few days later, perhaps understanding the significance of the incidents and the relative insignificance of the stone throwing around them, all 12 hours of video from each camera, were released to the media. Deri’s defense asks: maybe during this time the Palestinians edited or manipulated the videos?
The video has been checked by the IDF and Israeli police, which found no editing or manipulation. In their testimony, some of the visual experts explained that it is extremely difficult to manipulate a movie in a manner that the IDF and the police could not trace. But in this case, because we have 4 cameras that each shares parts of its field of view with another camera, it is just impossible. Someone moving can be seen from 2 or 3 angles, doing the exact same thing. On top of that, we have lots of other footage from CNN and others, which also sync-up. Here is such an example which syncs CNN, the security cams and photos by Samer Nazal (Follow the circles):
The next video syncing (and there are many more) was conducted by a UK visual forensics company, in order to determine if Deri’s shot syncs to Nawara’s fall. They used the movement of a man in white, seen in both videos, to create a sync-point. From that point, they rewind the exact same number of frames in each video, until the shooting:
To watch the unedited Security cams footage you need to contact Betzelem. For the segmentd footage (in order to upload it to YouTube) see here: Camera 1 (1, 2), Camera 2 (1, 2, 3), Camera 3 (1,2,3,4), Camera 4 (1,2,3).
Inside The Courtroom
We’ve now went through all the simple theories, which mostly dealt with the videos and misconceptions about what happens in them. Now we go inside the courtroom and start dealing with the more complex theories that were conjured up. For the sake of keeping the text organized, i chose not to present the proceedings as they developed in the trial, but by focusing on each subject at a time.
The Backpack That Wasn’t There
When he was shot, Nawara had his backpack on him. The bullet, which matched Deri’s rifle, was found inside that bag, after it passed through Nawara’s body. He fell bleeding on his bag. he was carried and put inside the ambulance – all of this with his bag still on him.
On May 18th, 2016, Yeal Herman from the Division of Identification and Forensic Science in the Israeli police, testified that blood was found on a book and notebook inside the bag. That blood was found to be of a male offspring of Nawara’s parents (since the DNA test for Nawara’s body didn’t work, they tested it against the DNA of his parents).
Everything seemed to align with the accusations against Deri. But then Tzion Amir asks Herman about a critical problem in her tests (from the transcript of the trial):
Herman: i approached, looked and scanned the bag with my eyes, and couldn’t see [any blood stains].
- Amir: what does it mean? listen, if i cut myself right now, the blood will spill on my clothes. than when you’d look, let say 5 minutes after, you would see a blood stain, right?
- Herman: yes. A visual scan will indicate blood.
- Amir: Good. and if i show you the same clothing 4 months later, when it was persevered in good conditions – like in our case – could you still see the blood stain?
- Judge Tapergberg: Is the amount of time that passed meaningful to the possibility of detecting the blood?
- Herman: No.
- Judge Tapergberg: so if there was blood, there should be blood.
- Herman: if optimal conditions are kept and it wasn’t, lets say washed.
- Judge Tapergberg: IF there was a blood stain at the time of the event, you should’ve seen it when you looked at the bag?
- Herman: could be. but it… i didn’t see any. maybe if I’d look at it today, more carefully i might…
- Amir: go ahead, here! look at it again. scan it in front of us inside and out. look for blood where the bullet came in.
- Herman: I can’t see any blood.
- Judge Taperberg: Can you explain how you found blood in the notebook inside the bag, but no blood on the bag itself?
- Herman: i can’t.
Blood on things from inside the bag, but no blood on the bag. Supposedly magic blood that jumped from Nawara’s body to Nawara’s notebook, without touching his bag? How can this be?
The vindicating tests that I’m not asking for:
Throughout the trial, dramatic testimonies and lab results that weren’t done or were screwed up, are explained in the court:
Cellphone location on Nawara’s phone, DNA identification of Nawara’s body, DNA extraction from the fragments pulled out of the body, DNA elimination-test of Nawara’s only male brother.
In all those instances, Tzion Amir yells and explains how frustrated he is of all the missing or screwed up tests, that would have exonerated Deri. If only cell-location was done, you would see Nawara wasn’t there. If only the DNA test didn’t fail, you would see the body wasn’t Nawara’s. And in our example: If only a biochemical test of the bag was requested, and not just a visual scan, you would see that there’s no blood on the bag. And if there’s no blood on the bag, but there’s blood inside it, than it must of been planted there!
There is only one thing that Amir is careful not to do, with regards to all those missing tests that would vindicate his client: Ask that they’d be done now.
The vindicating tests which can no longer be done:
The only instances that Amir does ask for tests, are when he knows they it can no longer be performed:
- He demands the fragments and the bullet’s projectile be weighed, so we can check if they sum up to the original weight of the projectile (not a useful test since you can never be sure you found all fragments. mostly works in extremes: The combined weight is much more or less than the original projectile). But he already knows that one of the fragments was melted in order to test if it matches the bullet.
- He demands to check the original recording of the security tapes when he already knows the original was deleted and that the copy was confirmed to be unedited or manipulated.
- He demands to test the shirt Nawara was shot with, when he knows it was torn off him in the hospital and thrown away (and since the shot was from 80 meters, there would be no gun residue anyhow).
The Trick Turns Against his Maker:
In a criminal case, the prosecution is not allowed to continue its investigation during the trial. The defense has a right not to be surprised and to arrive at court when all the evidence and testimonies against the accused, are already known to him. The defense on the other hand, can do and ask to do, whatever it wants (within the constraints of the law of course).
And while the prosecution definitely mishandled the investigation and the lab tests, Amir is free to ask to complete or re-due those tests. Yet all he does is point to the void, and claims its theoretical filling would have exonerated his client. This is how things end for all those tests, except in one case. In Herman’s redirect testimony, the prosecution asks a few more questions about the bloodless bag, when suddenly the Judge’s curiosity over takes him:
- Judge Taperberg: tell me, if there was blood, how can we tell even though we can’t see it?
- Herman: if you’d ask me today, than we have tests for hidden blood. Biochemical tests and immunological tests.
- Judge Taperberg: I’d like it done.
- Tzion Amir: what done?
- Judge Taperberg: the tests on the bag. to see if there’s still blood on it.
- Tzion Amir: your honor is saying? your honor wants?
- Judge Taperberg: yes. DECISION: the court is instructing the lab to perform a chemical blood test.
- Tzion Amir: your honor, if i may, your authority. Our opinion wasn’t asked in the matter, but your honor should state what authority grants him,
- Judge Taperberg: the authority to seek the truth, which you so heatedly support.
- Tzion Amir: no, but your honor should state in his decision from where he derives the authority to instruct such a decision [to test the bag].
- Judge Taperberg: as requested by the defense. now, during the expert testimony, a question arose in the court and doubt, as to the inability to see blood on the bag, if as claimed, the victim was wearing the bag when he was shot. In order to discover the truth and complete the missing information, the court here by instructs to conduct the aforementioned test.
Notice Amir’s reaction, who all of the sudden is not thrilled to perform the test, which only moments ago he claimed would vindicate his client. “by what authority?” Amir asks the judge. “the authority to seek the truth, which you so heatedly support”, Judge Taperberg snipes back sarcastically, making it clear he, like you now, is aware of the distance between Amir’s verbal cries for the truth lost with the missing tests, and the way he actively pushes to suppress that truth, when retesting is available.
A month later Herman returns to court with the results: Blood. Blood on the bag, inside the bag, and all around the entry hole left by the bullet.
The Permanent Cavity Problem
As a bullet passes through the body, it carves and cuts its way through the flesh and organs, leaving a Permanent tunnel or cavity. It also produces short term damage – tissues and organs which are blown by the shock waves (AKA Hydrostatic shock\pressure waves), but then mostly return to their original placement.
On June 16th 2016, Dr. Chen Kugel, the chief Pathologist in Israel’s national institute of forensic medicine, testified that the permanent cavity – the “tunnel” left in the body by the bullet – is not what he’d expect to find and he cannot explain it. The media silence about the case was broken the next day, as Kugel’s testimony became this headline:
“No explanation for the direction of the bullet”: A turn in the case of the border police officer accused of killing a Palestinian.
The head of the national institute of forensic medicine testified in the trial of warrior Ben Deri, accused of killing a Palestinian boy during a disruptive protest in Beitunia. According to him, the locations of the wounds on Nadeem Nawara’s body, aren’t consistent with the location of the accused at the time he fired.
In order to understand Dr. Kugel’s testimony, i will first need to anguish you through some basic knowledge in Ballistics, internal ballistics and other terms and fields relating to the movement of a projectile through the human body.
At the time of the shooting, Deri is on an elevated platform, referred to as “The Balcony”, which is about 5 meters above Nawara. From Nawara’s perspective, Deri is in front and above him. So a bullet fired by Deri at Nawara, should move down between the entry wound in his chest and the exit wound in his back.
The permanent cavity left by the bullet, is indeed a downwards movement with an insignificant 3cm to the side. Only the downwards movement is significantly sharper that Deri’s angle as he was firing. Dr. Kugel would expect to see such a permanent cavity from the same general horizontal location Deri was in, but from much higher.
This, as the headline claimed, really is a dramatic turn: the shot couldn’t have come from Deri’s location. But whoever leaked\reported the testimony, did so only partially, and left out the cross-examination:
The prosecution asks Dr. Kugel if one’s posture would effect the cavity, and Kugel confirms. Kugel is asked if Nawara’s walk, which is a little bent over, could effect the cavity, and he confirms. Kugel is asked if the weight of the bag pulling back, when we know that we unconsciously auto-correct this by leaning forward – would that affect the canal, and he confirms. Finally, Kugel is asked weather these elements combined could create the permanent cavity he saw in the body, and he answers that it is possible.
Now some of you might think, as Amir yelled in the court, that Nawara isn’t that crouched over. He is leaning forward, but could that really explain a drop of 11cm (4.3in) in height from the entry wound to the exit wound?
The prosecution stops here. Though Kugel’s testimony now allows for Deri to be the shooter, it still deems it unlikely. This is a hard blow to the case, which we shall try to fix now.
The Natural Loss of Altitude:
First we need to calculate whats the drop in altitude we would expect from a bullet passing in the air, over roughly 25cm (an average distance between a thin-muscular man’s chest and back)?
So we know Deri is 5m elevated from Nawara and is 80m away. A simple Pythagoras calculation will tell us that the angle of the shot was 4 degrees (the rifle was slightly pointing down), as was testified by the IDF’s expert.
So how much altitude is lost at 4 degrees over 25 cm? Pythagoras will again tell us that we should expect 2cm drop, and not the 11cm that was found in the body. So we have 9 extra centimeters, which do not align with the angle between Deri and Nawara.
It should be stated that the location of the wounds, is relative to the spine on the back the chest bones in the front. as they are not on the same surface, there can be a 1-2cm miscalculation. But still, as Kugel stated, 7-9cm is still a lot.
Proof by contradiction:
Will begin by assuming Dr. Kugel is right, and that the angle between the entry and exit wounds, is the angle between the shooter and Nawara (or somewhat close to it). We go back to Pythagoras and calculate that the 11cm drop, over 25cm~ distance (through the body), gives us an angle of ~24 degrees.
As found by the IDF’s expert, the structure on the right of Nawara blocked any fire coming from that direction. We know from the wounds the shooter couldn’t have been behind Nawara and to the left of Nawara its all flat (which obviously doesn’t work with an angle of 24 degrees). so the only area a sniper could have been elevated and still been able to see Nawara was the balcony Deri was on and the buildings behind it.
We know from IDF’s report on possible lines of fire, that everything to the right of the red line in the picture above, has no view of Nawara. The black circle is where Deri and his force were.
So we can see, the only other possibility for an elevated “incriminating sniper”, is the building behind Deri, in the parts left from the red line. The building behind Deri is about 10m back, which means 90m from Nawara. Back to Pythagoras: 90m at 24 degrees, means the shooter was 40m in the air.
The building behind Deri has 3 floors and another one if you include the narrow section with the red roof tiles. So 4 floors all together, making the red roof the highest location “the incriminating sniper” could have been at.
Israeli standard for floor-ceiling height is 3m but to avoid arguing about the subject, we’ll assume 4m. And so: 4 floors X 4 meters + 5m which is the height of the balcony = 21m . When according to Dr. Kugel, the sniper should have been 40m in the air – twice as high. Not just an invisible sniper, but a flying one too!
So how can all this make sense? The answer, in my opinion, is that Dr. Kugel is wrong.
Introduction to Forensic Ballistics:
When Kugel is asked if the bullets trajectory in the body could be influenced by the bullets movement in the air, he answers dismissively: “I don’t think its because the bullet made any stunts in the air”. But it did. All bullets do.
We tend to think of bullets in flight, as facing forward, with their tip\nose directly facing the target. We’ve learned from forensics shows on TV, that you can stretch lines from wounds on a body, and arrive at the exact location of the shooter. All these things, in most cases, range from exaggeration to complete nonsense.
A combination of different forces cause bullets to move in different ways:
- They obviously travel in the direction you aimed (normal ballistic trajectory)
- Circular Grooves in the barrel cause the bullet to spin (which keeps it balanced)
- The friction with the air causes the bullet to be a bit “snobbish” and raise its nose a little, creating an angle of attack (the angle between the direction the bullet is moving towards and the direction his nose is facing).
In simple words, the bullet takes time to stabilize and it leaves the barrel somewhat shaky. This shaking of the bullet’s nose, which creates different angles of attack, is called “Yaw”. Generally speaking, a longer barrel produces a steadier bullet, and Deri’s gun was an M4, which is Basically a shortened M16 (meaning more “Yaw” and more shaking).
I’m telling you all of this because the way and the angle a bullet hits the body, is critical to the trajectory it will take inside the body, and the permanent cavity it will leave behind. So while we think bullets hit their target like this:
In most cases they’ll hit it like this:
The arrows represent the counter force acting on the bullet from the friction of the body or matter it passes through. When a bullet is perfectly aligned, then the friction forces acting on him are symmetrical, It slows down, but it does so without changing its path from the trajectory it had in the air. But when the bullet has an angle of attack, the friction acts more on one side of the bullet, than the other. this can be seen easily in wind tunnel testing of air craft wings:
Because the wing is tilted down, there’s a lot of air friction beneath it but non above it. The same thing happens to a bullet.
This is the stability graph for the bullet Deri was using – a 5.56mm M-193 FMJ:
Without going into specifics, the bullet starts with 3 degrees of Yaw and only stabilizes after 200m (The graph is for a longer barrel, so Deri’s bullet would have been even shakier). Nawara was 80m from Deri, so we know that the bullet most likely hit him with an angle of attack ranging from 0.8 to 2 degrees, and that the Yaw forces were still active at impact (the nose was still moving around).
And when a bullet hits the body at an angle, the friction causes it to tilt towards that angle and the center of gravity of the bullet (marked by the red dot) “tries” to move forward. The more the bullet continues to travel in this manner and the slower it gets, so would the angle of attack increase. What starts off as just a degree or two, quickly turns to sharp angles and sometimes even spinning of the nose and tail (AKA “tumbling”). This explanation is missing from Dr. Kugel testimony: the M-193 trajectory inside the body, is rarely a continuation of its trajectory prior to entering the body.
But how dramatic this effect can be? am i not just bothering you with insignificant details?
Since the M-193 is an unstable bullet with a rear center of gravity, many times, inside the body, it will start to turn towards a complete reversal, which is known as Tumbling:
But just as many times, the bullet’s Yaw will create an angle of attack, but not one sufficient for full tumbling. In those cases, research has found that after 9-16cm of penetration, the bullet will start wandering off its flight trajectory (your welcome to read these 2 pages , but feel free to skip):
So roughly 10-15cm in to the body, a “cone of possibilities” opens, for possible paths the bullet might take.
But does this “wandering around” characteristic of the M-193 explains the 7-9cm altitude drop between the entry and exit wounds in Nawara’s body?
Watch this testing of an M-193 fired into ballistic gel (a gel with the same average density as human tissue and organs). The block of gel is about 28cm long, which is about the same as a thin-muscular male’s chest. Watch where the bullet hits, how straight its trajectory is in the beginning, how it turns, and where it ends up:
A screen capture of the result :
The bullet penetrates about 8-9cm deep, maintaining its ballistic trajectory prior to hitting the gel. It then turns and takes a dive downwards (basically takes a single option out of the cone of possibilities), until it leaves the gel – roughly 10cm below the entry point!
Kugel Vs. Eishton:
So you can see that the M-193 isn’t loyal to the ballistic trajectory, and its wandering can explain 7-9cm in altitude drop in Nawara’s wounds. In his response to this investigation, Dr. Kugel explained that though he agrees with what you’ve seen thus far, the permanent cavity found in Nawara’s body, was quite straight and didn’t present a hard turn as depicted above.
I myself obviously didn’t gain access to the body or the autopsy’s photos, so i must rely on Kugel’s testimony of it (and he seems to be a very honest person). That said, i am not as certain as he is, as to the accuracy of measuring a permanent cavity which runs through multiple moving organs, in a body that was in motion when it was hit, and in a partially rotten corpse, one month after it was buried. Kugel himself, after reading this investigation, understands that there are paradoxes within his conclusions:
if the bullet tunnel in the body is completely straight, it means the friction on the bullet was symmetrical and only acted on the bullet’s nose. Which means there shouldn’t have been any fragments (M193 bullets do not break or get squashed without hitting bone, if they don’t tumble or turn). As such, we began – Kugel and I – searching in forensic ballistics’ experimentation and research, to find a possible explanation.
At first, i was able to find the following test of an M-193 fired into a ballistic gel, which still shows a 10cm altitude drop, but without the sharp turn (just a gentle arc, which is so gentle as to be confused in a partially rotten body with a straight line):
Though this (and many other recordings of the same phenomena) got us passed the “sharp turn” issue, Kugel replied that the permanent cavity in Nawara’s body didn’t show the severe damage and tearing, that is caused by the shock waves and expansion you see in the video (the growing “bubble” inside the gel, known as Hydrostatic pressure waves).
So i kept on reading, until i came across a study conducted in Iraq in 2010, which examined the bodies of 30 people killed by high velocity bullets (such as the M-193). That study sent me to another book in the field, which explains that the hydrostatic pressure waves which should have created the damage around the permanent cavity in Nawara’s body, mostly occur when the bullets move through the body at speeds greater than 2500fps.
There is some debate regarding the hydrostatic threshold. It changes with different guns, bullets, angles and conditions. But generally speaking, most estimates place it around this number, for the combination of Deri’s rifle and bullet (M4 firing an M193). For our purpose, suffice to say that if the bullet hit Nawara at a velocity lower than 2500fps, than it’s likely that no hydrostatic shock occurred and therefore, Dr. Kugel wouldn’t find the injuries associated with it.
As mentioned, Deri was using an M4 rifle, which has a muzzle velocity – the speed at which the bullet exits the rifle – of ~2900fps. Again, every change in the gun, humidity, elevation, and quality and maker of the bullet, will give you different results. But at 80m – the distance between Nawara and Deri – the spectrum is from 2200 to 2700fps (from worst to optimal conditions).
So we can clearly see that Nawara was very likely to have been hit under 2500fps, and thus it’s very likely he didn’t suffer any hydrostatic shock damage. On top of that, further reading taught me that most bodily tissue and organs, are too elastic to be damaged by the hydrostatic shock. The brain, enclosed in the skull, blows up like a tiny bomb set off in a closed bottle of water. The liver has enough plasticity, so that the stretching shreds it beyond repair. But other organs, though they might suffer from the shock, don’t tear and leave evidence of it. So even if there was some shock at entrance, it is possible that by the time the bullet reached Nawara’s liver, it had slowed below 2500fps, and thus, left no significant damage for Kugel to find.
Presented with these findings, Dr Kugel accepted them as a possible explanation for the wounds found in Nawara, though still defending his testimony in court, that it’s unlikely. This change though, happened a day after the plea deal was signed.
I asked Kugel weather he changes unlikely options, when he’s made aware of the incident’s circumstances. For example, he sees a wound which 95% of the time, would indicate it was caused by a serrated knife. But this time he has video of the attack, and the knife retrieved from the body – which had a smooth blade. Surely he wouldn’t testify in such a case, that the weapon found is very unlikely to be origin of the wound. Kugel agreed that the correct testimony in such an incident, would be to indicate that if the evidence regarding what happened outside the body is confirmed, than a 5% reason, becomes a 100% fitting explanation.
Kugel still maintained his testimony wasn’t that important and wasn’t the main cause for the deal signing, rationalizing that the deal confirms Deri as the shooter even though his testimony concluded this is very unlikely. But i believe Kugel’s testimony put pressure on the already willing to settle prosecution. An alibi testimony saying an accused wasn’t in the crime scene, could create sufficient pressure or excuse to sign a deal which states he was. Deals are signed because of evidence, but not necessarily with accordance to them.
Once the deal was signed, confirming Deri as the shooter, i asked Kugel how he reasons this with his contradicting testimony. he replied:
“Deri probably shot the bullet which killed Nawara. How this happened? I’m not sure. But i live with many things which i cannot explain, and I’m aware that i can’t explain everything and not everything is known to us”.
I asked did he not think that this should have been mentioned to the judge (for whom this is his first criminal case) and the prosecutors? Isn’t it important to know that the understanding of pathology is not yet perfect (like most forensic fields)? That an unexplained cavity doesn’t actually mean an impossible one and that it’s happened to him before that he couldn’t explain a wound, though he knew from other facts exactly how it was made? Doesn’t he find the difference from this explanation (which we discussed in our emails), to the one he gave in court (“I can’t explain this angle in the body”) to be important? Not only for this case, but for the judge’s next cases, in which he might rule based on “a fact” which isn’t one at all?
Here the correspondence ended (I’ll update if Kugel replies). In conclusion we can summarize that the bullet cavity found in Nawara’s body could have derived from Deri’s location (according to science), is a less likely possibility for a shot from Deri’s location (according to Kugel), and is definitely the cavity created from the shot Deri made from his location (according to all the other evidence, the video and Deri’s own confession in the plea deal).
The bullet’s condition problem
A second problem Kugel described in his testimony, was that he couldn’t explain the shape of the bullet found in Nawara’s bag. The bullet remained rather intact, with some unsymmetrical squashing in its tale.
Deri’s Lawyer asks Dr. Kugel about the condition of the bullet, with regards to the fact that it didn’t hit any bones in its path. Kugel replies:
“We don’t see a reason for the bullet’s squashed condition. From its path in the body i can’t explain its condition”
Here Dr. Kugel steps outside is realm of expertise. Bullets routinely break and are squashed without hitting bones, just from the forces acting on them. Here’s a picture of the famous fragmentation tests, conducted by Martin Fackler, on the M193 bullet, in Various striking velocities:
As you can see, there’s a whole spectrum of possibilities for end condition of the bullet. Our bullet is bent\squashed in its tale, but not broken. This correlates with the result on the left of the 2nd row from the bottom. As you can see by the striking velocity – 2395fps – this not only fits with the condition of the bullet found, but also the velocity expected at 80m distance (which we covered in the previous section). This in turn, also matches the science in the field which says hydrostatic-shock damage is likely not appear in this velocity (and it hasn’t). So you can see how the evidence don’t contradict, as Kugel testified, but actually complement each other. Here are some more M193 bullets, shot in to ballistic gel, which ended up intact and only squashed non-symmetrically in their rear:
And here again is the bullet found in Nawara’s bag (you can clearly see this result isn’t “unexplainable”, but standard at the right velocity and recurring):
Another support for the fact that the condition of the bullet found matches the trajectory in Nawara’s body, is the content of the fragments retrieved from the body. Those were tested to check if their composition is the same as the bullet found in Nawara’s bag (and it was).
As a side note, the lab report also found that the fragments contained lead and small amounts of other impurities, but no Copper or Zinc from the bullet’s jacket (see image to the right). The head of the forensics lab in the Israeli police, testified that “the bullet was a little squashed in the back, and the lead inside it was squeezed out, like squeezing the toothpaste out of the tube”.
When an M193 bullet tumbles inside the body, it tears apart to fragments – both the Jacket and the Lead interior. But when the velocity and angle are below the fragmentation threshold, which is about 2500fps for the M193, the bullet can still bend and get squashed, but the forces are insufficient for complete tearing of the bullet (proving again that their shouldn’t have been any hydrostatic shock, since the speed needed for the shock, is roughly the same as needed for the fragmentation – and neither occurred).
The reason the M193’s lead core can get squeezed out like toothpaste, is because of the bottom of its jacket, or rather the lack thereof:
As the friction in the body acts on one side of the bullet (because of its angle), the Jacket is bent, but remains intact. The lead inside is compressed and squashed out of the M193’s open bottom.
So the non-Jacketed fragments found in Nawara’s body, match the bullet found in Nawara’s bag: not only in the composition of the lead, but also in the fact that the fragments were only from the lead interior, and the bullet found still had a complete jacket. This again shows the condition of the bullet isn’t unexplainable, as Dr. Kugel testified, but rather in complete alignment with the other facts of the case and the research in the field. Contrary to his testimony, bullets do bend and get squashed (leaving lead fragments behind them), without hitting bones. And now, after the deal, we can also add that Deri confessed to making that shot (though supposedly without knowledge of it being a live round), which again means that not only the facts contradict Kugel, but also the accused himself.
“With regards to the bullet’s condition, I’m now not as firm on my stance as i was [prior to reading this article]”. I believe that you might be right, but i want to check the photographs in the case file before deciding”.
Kugel hasn’t returned to me on this subject after looking at the photos (though i believe it’s just from forgetfulness and not avoidance). But his answer, the evidence and the plea deal, speak for themselves.
So we’ve now finished going through most of the basic evidence and correcting Dr. Kugel critical testimony, which basically cleared Deri of the blame, by claiming his position didn’t match the bullet trajectory in the body, and that the condition of the bullet found in Nawara’s bag, can’t be explained from the path it took through his body.
In this section we will be going over the conspiracy theories raised by the defense, which claim Deri was framed by the Palestinians or his friends in the army. As crazy as some of them might seem to you, i assure that they don’t seem that way to most Israelis and they are explained in court, with a serious and straight face.
M16 Vs. AK-47
Deri’s lawyer finds many insignificant correlations and connections, which could imply the existence of a conspiracy. But really, non of them make sense or have real substance in them – none but one: The postmortem medical report for Nawara, notes that his wounds were caused by an M16 rifle, and not an Ak-47.
Only this diagnosis is impossible. The two rifles are too similar in the wounds they inflict, to decide which of them was the weapon used. This Pseudo-medicine conclusion, was written in order to point the finger at Israeli forces (which use M4 and M16) and not the Palestinian police (which use AK-47). Lets admit the obvious: this really doesn’t look good.
But the report wasn’t actually written by the Palestinian doctors. They were asked to write it by the Palestinian authorities. If you’d ask me, this is nothing more than a stupid propaganda attempt. They wanted to run out to the press with “evidence” of Israel’s blame. This all happened prior to the collection of the footage from the incident and even the knowledge of its existence. And when you think about it, lets say we accept it’s proof of a framing conspiracy, then why would you write a fake medical report to prove the identity of the killer, when you already know you have the killer on tape?
But you may certainly interpret this differently (as the defense does). All i ask, as i asked before, is that you keep thinking: “Assuming this is true, does it align with the rest of the objective facts of the case? And if it is true, why did the defense settle for negligent homicide, which means Deri did kill Nawara (only by accident), and all these conspiracy theories are false?
A fake report – to the detriment of its own makers?!
In the same reports, that the defense claims are fake, there are pro-Israel mistakes, which the defense uses as an advantage: In the first report, Nawara is said to be suffering from two entry wounds – as if he was shot in the back and in the chest. Only Dr. Kugel explains in his testimony, that this is a common mistake in a preliminary visual scan (prior to surgery), and that he too sometimes confuses exit wounds as entry wounds at such early stages.
But if the event and reports are fake and meant to frame Deri, than why would it have a mistake deflecting blame from Israel and punching holes in Deri’s guilt? Why would a “cooked report” be undercooked?
These mistakes, which benefit a different side every time, point more to a general lack of professionalism in the Palestinian hospitals, rather than a complex and well-thought of conspiracy.
The flipped view:
Let us for a second, look at this incident from a Palestinian prospective. Lets assume you’re a Palestinian watching the news, and you see the IDF spokesperson saying that a live bullet can’t be fired through the rubber bullet’s extension. After that, a whole bunch of Israeli politicians, media people and journalists, all say the same thing: A live bullet couldn’t have been fired through the extension. All the while, living for decades under the army’s occupation, you know this to be false.
Now, do we derive from all these experts, politicians and the army itself, stating a false claim which points the blame at the Palestinians, that there must be a conspiracy between these parties? Do we conclude from this single lie, that the IDF spokesperson, Yekutiel the weapon expert and Ben Deri, had all colluded to murder Nawara?
Of course not. This is insane. And that’s why, for the same reason, i think one should always have faith in the stupidity of unrightfully confident people, whose blind patriotism leads them to make false claims, which they think will serve their side. The Israelis who claimed Nawara couldn’t have been shot by the M16\M4 are the same as the Palestinians who claimed he couldn’t have been shot by the AK-47: They are patriotic idiots, unaccompanied or guided by a large conspiracy, who in the end and contrary to their objective, only hurt their nation’s credibility.
But aside from this explanation, we shall now go through all the conspiracy theories raised by the defense. If I’ll prove them false or below a reasonable doubt (as i believe i do), than a line in a medical report has no meaning, since the conspiracy interpreted from it, cannot be.
Deri Didn’t Fire a Live Bullet?
One of the defense’s claims, is that Deri only fired rubber bullets that day. Do we have evidence to the contrary?
Under the occupation, the Palestinians have been hearing live and rubber bullets for decades. With time, like the soldiers who fire them, they learn to distinguish between the sound the two make. All the Palestinian witnesses from that day, claimed they heard 3-4 live shots (and the rest were rubber coated bullets).
Matching the bullet:
The bullet found in Nawara’s bag, was a match to Deri’s rifle barrel. This test isn’t 100% accurate and shouldn’t be thought of as a deterministic result to the level of DNA testing, but rather a positive reinforcement. That said, the likelihood of someone being at the right time and in the right place, having a gun barrel similar enough to confuse the lab, is very low. Not only is it unlikely, it also cannot be by design: No 3rd party could have known the interior of Deri’s rifle barrel, and then find or make a similar one. They would have to rely on a lot of luck.
Matching the Fragments:
The fragments of bullet found in Nawara’s body, matched the bullet found in his bag (which we already said, matched Deri’s rifle). This to isn’t a 100% accuracy test, but the likelihood that a bullet left fragments in Nawara’s body, that are compositionally similar enough to Deri’s bullet, are slim.
The bullet and fragments went through a very accurate test (Isotope analysis), to check if the metal composition in them, is the same.The lead inside the bullet, has small impurities from other metals. The test checks for the ratios between all these metals in the bullet and fragments. If the ratios are the same (as they were), it means the bullet and the fragments are indistinguishable.
A Similar Bullet:
Deri’s defense asks Nadav Levin, head of Israel’s police forensics lab, if the bullet couldn’t have derived from the same maker and the same batch of bullets? The defense basically tries to detach the bullet – which matched Deri’s rifle – from the fragments. Maybe the bullet is Deri’s, but the fragments belong to a similar bullet, fired by someone else – perhaps someone from Deri’s force. Levin is asked if maybe Deri’s friends had such similar bullets, and had he tested them, they too would match:
Levin: No, Not at all
Deri’s lawyer: Explain
Levin: Because it’s a result of the manufacturing method. The method they use is such that the projectile’s cores [the lead interior of the bullet] is mixed with batches from many different Lead sources. and so, in the same batch of ammunition, i can find large variations in composition, but within a single bullet, i expect to find the exact same composition [as found in the fragments], which is what we found here.
What Levin is explaining is that even within a series of bullets that left the factory at the same time or arrived in the same box, there is great variation in the metal composition of their lead cores. It isn’t absolute variation: he expects there to be dozens or even hundreds of internal sub-groups, which are sufficiently similar to be tested as indistinguishable from each other. But this still means that the likelihood of someone in Deri’s force having a similar bullet, is in the single digit percentage or even less.
This again, is one of those instances were Deri’s Lawyer would like you to think no further. Here… We have a chance that the bullet isn’t Deri’s. that chance might even be 5%, which is the acceptable legal standard for reasonable doubt. So should we acquit Deri?
But doubt doesn’t accumulates. We again need to ask: assuming this is true, how does it align with the rest of the facts?
If we agree that the bullet derived from Deri’s force, we also agree that Nawara was shot and killed by them. But then, we already have the footage of the shot that killed Nawara, and it syncs with Deri’s shot. What is the other option? That Nawara faked his fall and death by Deri, and then later returned and was really shot by someone else from Deri’s force, who against all odds had a bullet with the same composition as Deri’s?!? And even if that was true, than where is the footage of this second shot at Nawara?!
The Bullet’s Jacket:
As we discussed, The fragments not only matched the bullet by the lead composition, but also by the lack of Cooper and Zinc from the bullet’s Jacket. If the shot came from another shooter, even with a similar bullet,they couldn’t have known or control the result of their shot to match it with Deri’s found bullet (meaning: Jacket intact and lead squeezed out).
The Empty Case Ejection:
As I showed in my first investigation of the incident, zooming on Deri in the CNN footage, shows and ejection of the bullet’s empty case.
This is critical because of the mechanism behind the automatic ejection of the empty case:
As you just saw, the force from the explosion of the gun powder in the bullet, pushes the projectile down the barrel of the gun. The same gases, are also partially channeled backwards, to push the mechanism back, and eject the empty case.
The only problem is, that this only happens because the projectile blocks the gases (it is 1mm smaller than the barrel), so that the gases are forced upwards and backwards, to release the empty case. When shooting rubber coated “bullets” (actually 3 metal cylinders covered in rubber and wrapped in nylon – Army nickname: Tampon), this doesn’t happen.
The “tampon” is inserted into the extension from the front (left side in the picture). A blank bullet, which has no projectile, is fired. The gases go up the barrel, into the extension, and propel the Tampon at the target. Since there’s no projectile to block the gases, very little of them go up and backwards (because physics dictates they shall always aspire to continue in the same direction, unless forced otherwise), And the empty case isn’t released automatically.
Enlarge the video if you need, but you can see the empty case ejected after the shot – which doesn’t happen when firing rubber coated bullets.
Sonography of the shot:
In my first investigation i also explained that you could test the audio from the recordings of the shots, to see if they are live rounds or rubber bullets. This was possible, because we knew that the second shooter, who fired seconds after Deri, did fire a rubber bullet. Since the same camera captured both of them from the same location, firing the same gun with the same rubber bullet extension, than the sound of the two can be compared to see if they are the same.
Unfortunately this was beyond my modest means. But later Nawara’s family with the help of a human rights group (DCI) asked a UK forensics company to do just that. Here are the results (Full textual explanation can be found here):
- All the witnesses claim they heard live fire
- The projectile found matches Deri’s rifle
- The fragments found match the bullet. Chances of matching a random bullet: slim to none. Chances of matching with someone from Deri’s force: single digit at best. But if the shot came from Deri’s force, than we have that shot on tape, and the shooter which syncs to that shot, is Deri.
- The video shows an empty case automatically ejecting, which only happens with live fire
- The Sonography of the shots shows Deri’s shot was live fire
- As such, the only possible and reasonable conclusion, is that the bullet Deri fired at Nawara, was a live bullet.
Deri Didn’t Have a Line of Fire
The defense also claimed that Deri can’t be the shooter, since he couldn’t see Nawara. Maybe he fired a live round and maybe he didn’t – but the round didn’t hit Nawara, as Deri couldn’t see him.
Proof by contradiction:
If there’s no line of fire, than what the hell is he shooting at? Even Deri claims he was shooting at Nawara (though alleging it was only rubber), so how can he claim to have shot at him, while at the same time claiming he couldn’t have shot at him? And if there’s no line of fire, why is Deri and all the soldiers with him, are shooting from that location throughout that day?
Re-positioning by the Palestinians:
The Palestinians themselves took pictures from Deri’s position, looking at Nawara’s position, substituting Nawara and the other victims with stand-ins. Deri’s location (top picture) is next to the tree with the red flowers (you can see that in the CNN footage), and his view is seen in the red square (and enlarged in the bottom picture).
The UK forensics company also tested lines of fire, by reconstructing the whole area in a 3d model:
- If there wasn’t a line of fire, Deri and the rest of the soldiers were just shooting the whole day at thin air, with great aiming and concentration.
- Palestinian reconstruction shows there was a line of fire
- Col. Naftaly concluded there was a line of fire
- 3D reconstruction concluded there was a line of fire
- Put together, there is no other option but to conclude Deri did have a line of fire at Nawara
The Line of Fire Was Blocked by the Parking Tractor
Another angle tested by the defense, claims that maybe Deri had a line of fire in principal, but at the time Nawara was shot, it was blocked by the parking tractor or some passing truck?
Again… if the line of fire was blocked, why are they shooting? Just sniping at a parked tractor for fun?!
The carpentry business to the right of Nawara, had 8 security cameras. Since nothing interesting is shown on the other 6, no one cared to look at them. But camera 8 is just on the corner of the building, facing the balcony that Deri and his friends were stationed on (Meaning it’s almost identical to the line of fire and to the view Nawara had of Deri).
According to the time-code on cameras 1 and 2 (which captured Nawara’s fall), he was shot at 13:45:10. Here is a screen shot of the exact same moment on Cam8:
I marked Deri’s location with the red circle, and you can clearly see there’s no truck passing and the tractor tall enough to obstruct Deri’s view, is at least 5m to the right of the line of fire.
Though the time-code between the cameras has been proven to be in sync, those of you who are worried it isn’t can read the following syncing explanation (the rest can skip past the next video):
On Cam8, you can see a soldier moving from the right of the balcony to the left (towards Deri), and you can see the same soldier in the CNN footage (only from their angle he’s coming from behind Deri). Also, at 13:45:30 (20 seconds after the shot), you can see a gas grenade fired from the balcony. Looking through the low quality Cam2 at the same time, you can see that Nawara is being placed inside the ambulance. At that same moment, a 3rd camera man was taping the ambulance from the other side of the street, and you can see the gas grenade hit the road:
This is a photo of the reverse angle (from above and to the left of Deri’s point of view) taken a few hours after the incident (Deri’s actual position is further to the right of the soldiers you see on the balcony):
Again, you can see the tractor (marked with a red arrow), is far to the left of the line of fire between Deri and Nawara, which fell a few meters to the left of the jeep in the red circle.
From Nawara’s perspective:
The next photo was capture just a second after Nawara fell. In the background you can clearly see that the only thing between Deri and Nawara, is the white van, which is to short to block the view. The tractors cannot be seen, because they are outside the line of fire.
- If the line of fire was blocked by the tractor, Deri and the rest of the soldiers were just shooting the whole day, with great aiming and concentration, at a parking tractor.
- Cam8, which syncs with all the other cameras, show no obstruction in Deri’s line of fire, and so does the reverse photo from behind Deri’s location
- The photo of Nawara on the ground, also shows no obstruction between Deri and Nawara
- Conclusion: There was a line of fire between Deri and Nawara – throughout the day and also specifically at 13:45:10.
Nawara wasn’t there
Another of the defense conspiracy theories, is that the person seen falling in the video, isn’t Nawara. This claim is based on the fact that at the time he was shot, Nawara’s face was covered. A second fact supporting this claim, is that Nawara was left handed, and the person claimed to be Nawara, is seen at one of the times he is throwing stones, throwing a stone with his right hand.
I haven’t seen the footage myself (just read of it in the trial’s protocols), but if it’s one time out of all the rest, than this doesn’t have much meaning. Perhaps he just did it once. Perhaps his left arm was hurting from previous throws. I can’t say. In the footage I’ve seen, he is throwing with his left hand. Anyway, we’ll deal with the identification problem, in better and more reliable ways.
The identification oversight:
Another example of negligence by the prosecution, can be found in their failure to properly identify Nawara in the footage. They did have Nawara’s father, Siam, identify his son, but only in the security footage. The defense, in its cross examination, got Siam to admit the obvious: He identified his son in the security camera footage, only by the way he walks and the clothes he’s wearing. Not a facial identification (which cannot be done with that footage).
Identification by clothing:
You can See Nawara’s clothing from that day, in the picture above (and more further down). I’ll show you one photo from his past, showing him with the same Keffiyeh and bag, but there’s endless video and footage of him from the months prior, Wearing the same clothes:
Aside from the security cameras, we have other photos from the event, which clearly show Nawara’s face (and they all sync with the security cameras):
And here’s a video zooming to make it clearer:
The prosecution did introduce the footage I’ve shown you into evidence, but there’s a legal distinction between “here are photos showing Nawara” and “Sir, do you recognize your son in this photo?”. Its technical, but necessary. So let us, again, mention the obvious: Siam and the rest of Nadeem’s family, identify him in the footage from that day.
- all the witnesses who knew Nawara, testify he was there and he is the person collapsing in the footage
- The clothing match
- The still photos clearly show his face and his family and friends identify him in those photos
- Conclusion: Nawara is the character in the security camera’s footage
Nawara Was Killed Prior to the Event and his body was used to frame Deri
This one is simple by now, because as we’ve already seen and proven Nawara was alive during the protest, as documented by video and photos, and testified by the people there who knew him.
Nawara is still alive
In another of the prosecution’s failures, the samples taken from Nawara’s body failed to produce DNA, and the prosecution didn’t ask to retake samples in order to validate the identity of the body (which was already partially decomposed). Even if the prosecution didn’t want to put the family through a second grave opening, it could have at least tested Nawara’s little brother, in order to eliminate him as the source of the DNA found on the bloody bag (which the test found originated from a male offspring of Nawara’s parents). The prosecution could have also asked to test a hair brush of Nawara’s or something he left that might have his DNA on it.
None of this was done (the family wasn’t even aware that the identification failed until i told them). I’m not saying the prosecution tried to fail, but it sure succeeded in doing so. As a result, the defense claimed that the body from the autopsy isn’t Nawara’s at all. So Lets prove Nawara did die.
- We have photos and movies of the bodies, but it’s up to you if you want to check them or just believe me (be aware the images are graphic). Nawara’s body can easily be identified as you can see his face and also the scar on his chin (i added a picture from his past for comparison):
- Videos from the funeral: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
- For photos after the bodies were cleaned and dressed, click here.
So we’ve got plenty of documentation of the bodies. But, obviously, the defense claims those might be fake (though if it is, it is beyond Hollywood level). But we also have hundreds and even thousands of people who saw and even touched the bodies. But here again, we return to Israel’s belief in a vast national-effort Pallywood, not only made up of the hundreds involved in the “fake shooting”, but thousands more in the “fake funeral”.
The “Legitimate” Witnesses:
Since Israelis don’t believe Palestinians and since the prosecution didn’t care to do it, i went and looked for Israeli-Jews who saw the bodies. Finally i came across two photo journalists who were in the morgue with Nawara’s body:
First, before we start another conspiracy theory going: no… the dead don’t always close their eyes, and when they don’t it’s very hard to force it (37% remain with eyes open).
Aside from their photos (above) I also asked to interview them as eyewitnesses to Nawara’s lifeless corpse:
- Yotam Ronen is an independent photographer who publishes with Walla! and Activestills. Mentioning the obvious: He is an Israeli Jew. Yotam arrived at the morgue the day after the shootings. He testifies that as a photographer in Palestine and Israel he’s seen dozens of bodies, and while he isn’t a doctor, Nawara and Abu Daher were lifeless and didn’t move or breathe. Yotam was with the bodies in the small morgue for 4 minutes and in the funeral for 30.
- The second photographer is a ‘Getty images’ worker, who preferred to remain anonymous. He too is an Israeli Jew, who spent 5-10 minutes with the bodies in morgue, and he too testifies they were dead.
- We have the Palestinian’s death certificates
- We have many videos and photos of the bodies
- We have thousands of Palestinian witnesses
- And for those who don’t believe Palestinians, we have two Jewish witnesses
- As such, Nawara’s death is proven, by any sane standard
Nawara was shot by Israeli soldiers stationed on “the surface”
We have one Palestinian witness (the owner of the carpentry factory), who says the shot that killed Nawara, came from IDF soldiers, who were stationed that day on what is known as “The surface”. Could this be true?
It’s almost impossible to locate the source of a shot based on sound. You might be able to say it came from the left or right, back or front, but actually differentiating between two close locations, is virtually impossible to do without the help of computers and microphones.
The factory owner was sitting on the balcony of his home, from which he couldn’t see Deri or his force. Blind to them, it’s likely that he naturally connected the sound with the visual information available to him, which was only the soldiers on the surface.
He also testified he thought Deri’s force and the protesters couldn’t even see each other. Since we know this to be wrong, it just further exemplifies how his field of view formed his erroneous conclusions. But Lets go beyond disproving his testimony and proving the shot didn’t come from the surface.
The Cameramen and photographers that day, located themselves outside of the crossfire of the stones and bullets. Below you can see CNN’s location and how close they were to the line of fire between the surface and Nawara. They stood there facing the balcony, because it was facing the action, while still being safe.
This is how CNN’s cameraman responded to the defense’s claim that the shots came from the surface:
“I’ll tell you one thing, if that soldier was shooting at my direction i would have screamed at him, that’s what i would have done. I would have screamed “are you crazy? to shoot at us?”. I would have noticed if someone was shooting from there [the surface]. it’s flat”.
The stone throwers reaction:
Throughout that day, the stone thrower snever hide from the surface – only from the balcony. You can see it in all the footage: a shot is fired, they run to the wall of the carpentry factory (see picture below), which hides them from the balcony, but not the surface.
The Open-Fire instructions:
The soldiers on the surface were not given clearance to shoot at any time that day – live rounds or rubber. There is no testimony or evidence, in the IDF, the police or by the defense, that claims that any one approved fire or shot without approval.
Deri’s force on the other hand, were given instructions to use non-lethal fire (rubber coated cylinders, gas grenades and the sorts). Within an area of permitted fire, you might be able to conceal unpermitted fire (for example: Deri’s force allowed an IDF photographer to snipe rubber coated cylinders at Palestinians for fun). But the soldiers on the surface, didn’t fire at all. If one of them had taken a shot, it would’ve been unconcealable. In order to conceal it after the fact, they would all have to back the shooter up, in an IDF conspiracy to to frame Deri (a fellow soldier) and help the Palestinians (which is obviously absurd).
Difficulty of the shot:
IDF’s expert testified that a shot from the surface would have been tricky: 250m (compared to Deri’s 80m), on the same level (compared to Deri’s 5m elevation), with obstacles in the middle (Utility poles obstructing the view). Not impossible, but difficult. Here’s a zooming from Nawara’s point of view, to the surface:
Syncing to Deri:
We have the CNN video, which shows Deri’s shot synced to Nawara’s fall. If a soldier from the surface took a shot at the same time, he’d have to somehow sync it to Deri as he pulled the trigger – something which cannot be done. Even if it happened by accident, The distance between Deri and the surface, and them being on different sides of the CNN camera, would have resulted with the sound of two different shots.
If another soldier killed Nawara, then why does the bullet match Deri’s rifle? Though it’s a possibility that a similar enough rifle was used, but it cannot be planned in advance and must be based on luck alone. Who would take such a gamble?
The bullet’s cavity canal:
If the shot was made from the surface, than why does the cavity canal in Nawara’s body fit a shot from Deri’s location? Nawara was shot on the right side of his chest (i censored the open wound and stitches from the surgery, but you can see the entry point of the bullet):
Now look where Nawara is facing when he was shot:
A shot from the surface will arrive roughly from the direction of the red arrow, while Nawara is facing Deri (the black arrow).
Even if the supposed surface sniper made the shot, the angle would be sharp: the bullet would hit Nawara not perpendicularly (like from Deri’s location), but more in the area of 45 degrees, pointing at Nawara’s right shoulder.
Nawara’s bullet cavity canal, describes a shot from the front. We did learn that this bullet isn’t loyal to its ballistic trajectory, but it’s still loyal to the general direction of the momentum from that trajectory. You can think about it like a first time ice skater who’s pushed forward. He’ll make awkward motions that would move him a bit here and there, but still in the general direction in which he was pushed at (with the direction of the vector). The bullet’s bodily trajectory, will be limited to a cone of possibilities, which open from the ballistic trajectory and in its direction.
The turn that would be required from a bullet from the surface to fit the cavity is extremely unlikely. Not only is it unlikely, but the cavity shows no such turn. Furthermore, the cavity indicates the shot came from above Nawara, and the surface has no elevation over Nawara’s location.
- A shot from the surface is difficult to make, with 250m to Nawara and obstacles in its path.
- except for one witness who couldn’t see Deri, every one else testifies all shots that day came from the balcony (Including the army and the police).
- Concealing the shot from the surface would require syncing with Deri’s trigger pull, which is impossible.
- If it was synced by luck, then because no other shots were made from the surface that day, the other soldiers on the surface would be aware of it. And so, it would require a conspiracy of soldiers against soldiers, for the benefit of their enemy.
- The bullet found matched Deri’s rifle and is unlikely to match one of the other soldier’s rifles.
- Deri’s shot syncs to Nawara’s fall.
- The bullet’s permanent cavity fits a shot from Deri’s location and doesn’t fit a shot from the surface.
- Put together, the likelihood of the shot originating from the surface is infinitesimal and doesn’t reach or even come close to reasonable doubt.
Nawara was shot by an unknown sniper
From previous sections, we already know that Deri fired a live round. We also know that the shot syncs with Nawara’s fall and that the cavity fits a shot from Deri’s general location. The fragments matched the bullet which matched Deri’s rifle.
Even if such an invisible-Palestinian-James-Bond-sniper existed, and even if by chance Deri missed his shot and the unknown sniper’s shot was silenced, we still couldn’t explain the matching of the fragments and bullet to Deri’s rifle.
Nawara faked his fall and was later killed by Palestinians
Again, since the fragments & bullet match Deri’s rifle, it would require a Palestinian “mission impossible” team, which collects bullets and bodies from Israeli shootings. Then a body swap is required and it has to be a shot Deri made in the recent past (otherwise the body would rot or show signs of preservation). Yet we know of no such shot made by Deri. The two shots Deri makes – the theoretical legal shot from Deri’s recent past and the rubber shot at Nawara – would have to be from roughly the same location in order for the wounds to match. The DNA testing needs to be sabotaged in some way (since the body doesn’t belong to the killed “actor”).
Since there’s no previous shot by Deri for a “body swap” or a “fragments implantation surgery”, and since even if there was it would be way beyond CIA or Mossad’s capabilities (let alone the barley functioning Palestinian authority), this obviously is impossible.
The Body in the autopsy wasn’t Nawara’s
Since the DNA testing of the body failed and the prosecution didn’t ask for a second test, the defense claims maybe the body isn’t Nawara’s at all and then all the evidence derived from it – mainly the bullet fragments – are irrelevant. What Identifies the body from the autopsy as Nawara?
The body and Nawara:
- The wounds are in the same locations as Nawara’s wounds
- The body is of a young male, with short dark hair, 169cm in height and weighed 50kg – all fits Nawara
- The body had a surgical incision which was crudely stitched – 12cm horizontally and then 28cm vertically – all identical to Nawara’s body in the morgue:
- Another incision on the right side of the body (not seen in the image above), which is done for inflating the lung, also match Nawara’s operation before he died
- The shoes generally match (a timberland style brown boot).
The autopsy details were taken from the reports which, if you don’t believe me, you can read here (otherwise skip ahead):
Why would they swap the bodies? We’ve established the person collapsing in the video is Nawara and that he definitely died. If it was “Pallywood” and he wasn’t really hit or was hit by a rubber bullet only, then the Palestinians killed him after the event and before the hospital. But why? He is the person they claimed that died, so why use another body? Now we return to the fragments problem (if Nawara wasn’t shot by a live round from Deri, the fragments would be missing or a mismatch for Deri’s bullet). But as we discussed before, this would require the “mission impossible” team finding another body from Deri’s near-past; a body which doesn’t exist.
The other option, contrary to all these insanely complex conspiracies, is that the person seen in the video shooting the person that is seen falling, shot him.
Surely Occam’s razor would slit these theories at their illogical throats, versus the simplicity of accepting the what is seen is what happened. But this isn’t only a case of choosing the simpler possibility, but rather the only one that is actually plausible.
The bullet mix-up theory
As you’ve seen, the conspiracy theories acquitting Deri are so improbable, that even his supporters probably won’t buy in to them. Deri’s lawyer, Tzion Amir, is to smart not be aware of this. He raises these theories as a hail Mary and perhaps to squeeze a better deal (which he has), but you don’t rely on them actually being accepted by the court.
This is how we reached the plea deal that was signed a few days ago, convicting Deri only of negligent homicide and aggravated assault. The deal is based on a theory in which the live bullet fired by Deri, got there without his knowledge or intent. He should have checked his magazine, but he didn’t (hence the negligent) and accidentally killed Nawara, when all he wanted was to shot a rubber bullet.
We shall now test the feasibility of this the bullet mix-up theory. Note that according to this theory, all previous conspiracies are false and no doubt that you might found there, is valid here. In the mix-up theory, both sides agree that Deri did fire a live bullet, which did kill Nawara, as seen on the footage. The only thing in debate here, is Deri’s knowledge of the live bullet’s existence and the probability of such an occurrence.
Outside Deri’s mind:
Since we can’t access Deri’s thoughts and know his intent, we seemingly must arrive at a reasonable doubt, and only convict him in negligence, as the prosecution did in the plea deal. So how will i go inside Deri’s mind and prove murder or homicide? in two ways:
- Proof by contradiction –
Proving the mix-up is impossible or improbable beyond a reasonable doubt. If I’ll prove that, the only remaining option will be murder.
- Proof of intent –
circumstantial evidence which show malice and partial confessions (by accident and by advertising his pride in the killings)
The sterile war room
The loading of the blank magazines used for launching the rubber coated cylinders, is done in the war room of the base, where no live ammunition is allowed (Live magazines are loaded in a completely different location). The Sergeant from Deri’s company in charge of loading the magazines, explained the process in his testimony:
- Closed boxes arrive with the blank bullets to the war room and are store in a back room, which holds all the non-lethal weapons.
- The sergeant currently in shift will take a box of blanks from the back room to his table in the war room, and load them into regular empty magazines which have been painted red to mark they’re for blank use only.
- At the end of each magazine the sergeant looks inside it to see there’s no bullet tip (the projectile which the blanks don’t have).
- When a fire-team or a squad needs equipment, the squad’s commander goes to the war room and signs off on what he needs. He is then suppose the inspect the magazines again, to see no live bullet somehow got inside one of them.
In theory and by the rules, the war room is supposed to be sterile of any live ammunition. But Deri’s lawyer quickly proves with photos from inside the war room, that this isn’t the case. Soldiers are seen entering the war room with their personal guns, and the magazines attached to them (loaded with live bullets). So does this mean that a bullet mix-up is possible?
The chain of mix-ups
The Israeli press explained the plea deal to the public, as if one mistake is all that was required for the tragic unintended result. But is this true? What is the chain of mishaps required for the end result of this case? The war room isn’t sterile as it should be, but bullets don’t just fall out of magazines:
- lets assume that one bullet did fall out or a soldier was playing with a live round in his hand, and it fell in the war room.
- But the blanks are in back room.
- So lets assume that the accidental fall of the bullet, happened during the loading of blanks into magazines.
- But they’re still inside a box on the table.
- So lets assume it fell from a magazine or a hand, directly into the box.
- But then the sergeant would pick it up and notice it’s a live round.
- So he missed it. It’s dull work, and he wasn’t paying attention.
- But when he finishes loading the magazine, he looks inside to see if there a live bullet.
- So he didn’t look or missed that too.
- But the sergeant testified this never happens. Deri’s lawyer tries to lead him: “were all human. maybe the lighting was bad. maybe just once”. The sergeant answers decisively – no. It never happens.
- But lets assume that it did.
- Than the Squad’s commander should have seen the bullet when he checked.
- So maybe he too didn’t look or missed it.
So as you see, a single mistake isn’t sufficient for the end result of killing Nawara with a live bullet. A whole chain of random mistakes has to occur. Each mistake is unlikely by itself, but as a combination which also requires a specific order and synchronization, it’s unheard of. The sergeant, who is a friend of Deri, testified there has never been such an incident. Trying to crack his confidence he was asked again, maybe it happened somewhere else or in the past. “No!”, he replied. Unheard of.
I can add that after a lot of research, i have found no previous example of such a chain of mistakes in the IDF or the Israeli police. If it happened, it wasn’t in the last 30 years or so (prior to digital documentation). And 30 years ago (even 20 years ago), the whole separation between live rounds and blanks didn’t exist. In fact, the whole extension for firing rubber coated cylinders was only developed in Israel in 1989, which means if a case cannot be found up until then (which it cannot), then there is no such previous case.
This means that this version of the bullet mix-up theory, relies on a chain of events that has never happened, in almost 30 years of usage (of the rubber cylinders) and millions upon million of blank magazines loaded. Even if one assumes this is an option (and since it breaks no laws of physics, you can’t deny it), the judicial process doesn’t deal with doubt – only reasonable doubt. Obviously something which is a 1 in a million occurrence, doesn’t even scratch reasonable doubt, and if it did, no one would ever be convicted of a crime, since there is always some 1 in a million exonerating explanation.
The sole mix-up theory
Since the “chain of mix-ups” theory is so unlikely (putting it mildly), the defense suggested a simpler more reasonable theory: Deri himself, and not someone before him, messed around with his magazines, and accidentally placed a live bullet in his blank magazine. This, unlike the previous theory, has and does happen from time to time.
Seemingly, a much simpler scenario – one man, one mistake. But is it?
To state the obvious, messing around with your magazines – especially the blank magazine and even more so the combination of both blank and live magazines – is illegal. The separation of the buildings in which live and blanks magazines are loaded, isn’t done for fun. The elimination of loading by soldiers, wasn’t random. A lot of blood was spilled prior to these changes. But maybe Deri did it anyway?
- First, though I’m not exposed to the full paper trail of the investigation, i can assure you that this claim is not a spontaneous claim and was only mentioned late in the investigation. There’s a legal term in Hebrew (“עדות כבושה”) which i can’t find in English, but basically says that when the accused’s first version contradicts with a later version, given after the accused had time to think and consult a lawyer, than the earlier version shall be considered the reliable one (unless the new version is supported by objective evidence).
If someone accuses you of murder – which they did – you’re going to mention that maybe it happened accidentally when you loaded the magazines earlier that day. Messing with the magazines, is just a disciplinary offense in the army. Not mentioning it would be like not giving your alibi for murder, because what you were doing at the time was stealing a pack of gum. When Deri’s explanation only comes up months later, it smells like a lie and according to trial standards and basic logic, should be considered a lie unless corroborated by other evidence besides Deri’s late, calculated and self-benefiting testimony.
- On top of it being illegal and dangerous, it serves no function. Why would Deri unload and reload both his live and blank magazines at the same time? To what end? It simply isn’t done.
- Even if we assume he did it nonetheless, then again we need a second mistake: he needed to not notice he is holding a live round, as he placed it inside the blank magazine. And a third mistake: he needed to not check or miss the bullet’s projectile, as he looked down into the magazine.
Now some of you might be thinking: Strange, illegal, The explanation only came up after meeting with lawyers, unlikely – but maybe. Maybe that’s what happened.
I still don’t think this “maybe” rises to the level of reasonable doubt, but our evidence doesn’t end here.
The initial inquiry
A now forgotten fact, is that right after the incident an initial inquiry was conducted by colonel Tamir Yadai. According to channel 1 (Israel’s state sponsored TV), the magazines of all the soldiers in the field were checked, and nothing out of the ordinary was found.
But if Deri accidentally switched a bullet from his live magazine to the blank one, than his live magazine should have had a shortage or a blank bullet in it. If not, where did the bullet come from? In a premeditated crime you would obviously easily conceal the problem (by bringing live rounds from outside or refilling the live magazine before the inquiry). But an accident should leave a trail. Deri claims he thought Nawara was only hit with rubber coated cylinders and only learned for a fact this isn’t the case, when the autopsy was conducted one month later. If i claim not only to have hit your car with my car accidentally, but also that i didn’t even know i hit you, you’d expect to find the scratches and dents on my car, from the collision. An unplanned mistake with consequences unknown to its maker, shouldn’t look clean, like a cover-up.
It isn’t “a single mistake”
In order to claim negligence or a mishap of sorts, the accident should be just that: An accident. If, for example, I’m a construction contractor and i messed up the construction of a single column which lead to the floor collapsing on a man, this could be negligent homicide. But if the column was in a bad angle, the ceiling was made with cheap forbidden materials and instead of an engineer i brought a friend of mine, who’s actually a photographer, than negligence will not be accepted as an explanation, since i failed systematically.
Furthermore, the nature of negligence is that it isn’t planned, and as such, requires random results. For example: If my concrete mixture was 80-20, between the the cheap sand and the expensive polymer, while the standard requires 60-40, this might be a mistake. If it happened 10 times, in 10 different mixings, this probably isn’t a mistake. But if it happened 10 times, and all of those times it’s the exact same ratio (80-20), which is in my favor, than this is a planned result and not an accident at all.
In short, the more “accidents” there are, the more similar they are, and the more they benefit their “clumsy” maker, the less likely they are accidents at all.
Oops… i did it again
So what was illegal or against regulations that day in 2014? Did Deri build a single column wrong or the entire building?
- Illegal firing – even for rubber:
Deri’s shot was illegal, even if he thought it was only a rubber cylinder. At the time he was shot, Nawara was just walking unarmed. Deri’s plea deal actually convicts him of aggravated assault, specifically because he shot Nawara for no reason. Three others were shot that day by live fire. Number of mistakes\crimes: 4.
- The bullet mix-ups:
If we accept Deri’s claim that it was a mix-up than its 4 more mistakes\crimes.
- An IDF photographer who was there to document the event, was given a rifle by Deri’s friends and allowed to snipe rubber cylinders at Palestinians for fun. Number of crimes: 2 (one by the photographer and one by the commander who allowed him to fire).
So it’s not a single mistake, but at least ten that day (and by the end of this text, more will add). Not only that, but they are of the same nature: Illegal firing (even for rubber), which turned out to be live fire, which hit non-threatening Palestinians in their torsos.
The crimes also strengthen the murder case, for they show malice and contempt for the lives and suffering of the victims. Negligence is a result that might appear malicious, but lacks intent: the surgeon’s hand shook and the patient died.
The more malicious actions surrounding the so called “mistake” (in our case the bullet mix-up), the less probable is negligence. Back to our example: The surgeon’s hand moved and the patient died, but the surgery itself was illegal, the patient wasn’t sick at all, the doctor punched the patient prior to the surgery and he let a friend of his – a photographer – play with the knife next to the patients heart.
Assuming the extremely unlikely event of a bullet mix-up: Why did you even shoot them at all? Why shoot Nawara when he is just walking? Why shoot Abu Daher in the back? Why let the photographer snipe for fun? A shot made with malice but the result is accidental?!
“Yes”, says Israel through its prosecution. The plea deal signed convicts Deri of aggravated assault for the rubber he thought he was shooting, and negligence, for the live round that was actually fired. He looked for a target with malice, aimed with malice, fired with malice, but killed by accident. Convenient.
That’s like a bank robber convicted of breaking into a bank at night, blowing up the safe’s door, but acquitted of the actual robbery, because he claims the bag of money just accidentally tangled with his show and dragged behind him has he left, without his knowledge.
Do these 10 offenses look accidental? doesn’t the number itself implies they’re not?
Pass the Plea deal:
Once the deal was signed, all the conspiracy theories we went through, are basically thrown away: Deri admitted to shooting Nawara with live fire (though he claims he didn’t know it was live fire). This means that all the Pallywood theories go out the window. What is shown on the videos, is the truth. This means that not only Nawara’s footage is real, but also Abu Daher who was shot in the back, and the two others injured by live fire.
The irony or cynicism of the plea deal Israel gave Deri, is that it actually validates all the other events of that day: Convicting him in one accidental death, proves he is a serial killer. A guilt proving acquittal.
In the following video you’ll see Deri shooting rubber at the protesters (real rubber this time). In Hebrew and Arabic, the word “Yalla”means “come on” or “lets start already”. It’s common slang for showing excitement and anticipation to start something you think is fun or cool.
Since these protests are usually not the chaotic war zone Israel tries to sell them as (as an explanation for the unnecessarily killing of Palestinians), Deri is bored. He is craving action and then he sees movement. He smiles like someone not forced to shoot for protection, but like a person playing a video game. He calls “yalla!” in excitement, aims and shoots:
While stupid boys seeking action are not a rarity in armies, It’s relevant to know that Deri is one of them: That he craves action, that he was bored, that he sees the Palestinians as enemy targets in a game and produces joy from shooting them – even if they’re just walking. This implies to his motives and capabilities.
Response to the interrogation
An accused’s reaction to his accusement, can strengthen or weaken the case against him. As his interrogation started, Deri wasn’t aware his phone was tapped. They found two things they suspected indicate guilt: He asked his parents not to be angry with him and he replied to his friends that asked to know what did he actually do that day, with “not on the phone” (meaning: this is something we should talk about face to face).
Response to the event
Asides from the accused’s response to the police’s accusations, there’s his response to the event in general – as a human being. This response generally carries more weight in courts, as it’s more natural and not the calculated response one might give in an interrogation or in court. For example, the army court recently convicted a soldier (Elor Azaria) of homicide, giving much weight to his spontaneous response after he fired (“he deserved to die”) and ignoring his later claims of self defense. As for Deri, what do you think should be the response of a person to a death he claims he caused by accident?
Deri’s pride collage:
on the 15th of may, 2014, Deri shoots Nawara. An investigation begins in the media and in the army. Deri is obviously aware of what’s happening, but he is free, at his home with a gag order protecting his identity.
On the Oct 29th, Deri finishes his military service and goes out on a pre-release vacation from the army (from which you only come back to sign the release forms). It’s been half a year since the shootings with no arrest or trial, so he might of been thinking it’s all behind him by now. He posts a “thank you” status on Facebook, thanking all the people he served with, and then travels south to vacation in Eilat with a friend from the service and their girlfriends – unaware that in just a few days he’ll be arrested and charge with homicide.
Attached to the thank you status, Deri uploads a collage of pictures from his service, showing all the things his proud of and the good times he had:
Up top a group picture with everyone; in the center a letter of appreciation for his service; on the right a barbecue – and so on. Next to all these joyous and prideful events, on the bottom-left (I marked it with a red square), one of the famous pictures of Deri from the day of the shootings, sniping at the Palestinians – some of whom he by now knows he has killed.
If you were involved in an incident where a kid died of your mistake (as Deri claims), would a picture of you shooting that day at those same people, would enter your collage of pride and joy from the service? Or is this a wink at something you’d love to talk about but “not over the phone”?
Perhaps the right interpretation of this wink was given by the demonstrators outside Deri’s trial, who in just one minute went from semi-legitimate calls of “don’t leave a soldier on the field”, to the openly racist calls of “Kahane was right” (referring to the racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, a father figure of the extreme-right movement, the founder of the terrorist group JDL, basically calling for Nazi-era race-purity laws regarding Jews and Arabs, and forcibly removing Arabs from “greater-Israel”)?
Or perhaps the right interpretation was given by some of the commentators to Deri’s “victory picture”, when he was released from arrest to house arrest in 2015?
Does this act of pride in the shooting, aligns with someone who’s ashamed of his action or at least the tragic results he claims were not intentional? Or does this remind us of a “winked version” of the photos we’ve seen in the past Israeli and US soldiers, who take pride in hurting or humiliating? Like the pictures from Abu-Ghraib prison or those of Israeli soldier Eden Abargil (As one example of many), who like Deri posted pictures on Facebook of her laughing at handcuffed Palestinians with the description attached: “The most beautiful period of my life”?
Doesn’t this wink of pride turn to a full blown smile of hatred, as we look at the people Deri hosts in his home during the trial, and says he agrees with their ideology and actions?
- Yoav Eliasi – an extreme right inciter, whose Facebook page has more hate speech and racism (almost all of it against Arabs and Muslims) then any other online site in Israel
- El Yahud Gang – which calls for violent vengeance against Arabs
- Honenu orgnization – which provides top legal representation to any Jew accused of terrorism or a racist crime against Arabs – including Deri
- Michael Ben Ari – Israeli far-right ultra-nationalist & racist politician from the “Jewish Power” party:
- Ariel Zilber – far-right racist singer, whose song “Kahane was right” (regarding the evil nature of Muslims and Arabs and the need to expel all of them) is one of the anthems for every right wing fanatic in Israel.
Are these the actions and friends of someone who accidentally killed one Arab, or someone who murdered 4 and hates all of them?
Where are the rubber bullets?!
Imagine an Aids patient who accuses her doctor of rape. The doctor doesn’t deny penetrating her, but claims its just a mix-up, and he simply slipped and fell in to her, while he coincidentally had a condom on. Thus she was hurt, while he was saved from HIV infection – all without malice.
Sounds ridiculous? Obviously such a man would be convicted, right? And how’s this related to Deri?
The attachments marked in red arrows, are the rubber launcher extensions we discussed earlier. The 3 rubber coated steel cylinders (AKA “Tampon”) are inserted from the front of the extension and a blank bullet (which has no projectile) is fired, sending gases and energy up the barrel, into the extension, and launching the Tampon towards the target.
So the Tampons are used with blank bullets. In some cases blanks are fired by accident or for sound effect only, while the rubber extension is empty (no Tampon loaded). We also learned that a live bullet can be fired through an empty extension. There’s only one combination one should never attempt: Firing a live bullet when a Tampon is inside the rubber extension!
This is because the blockage of the Tampon, is very likely to result in the barrel exploding. This could end with the destruction of the gun and a few scratches, but sometimes also with an amputated finger or a punctured eye (and in rare cases even worse).
Examples of guns exploding due to blockage of the projectile:
As you might imagine, a gun exploding in your hands isn’t a common result, and the coincidence of it happening while someone is filming, is extremely rare. But a situation which is more common and has similar results, is known as a “Squib“: A projectile launched up the barrel, crashes into a previous projectile which failed to clear the barrel (usually a result of a faulty bullet). The crash produces an outburst of energy and gases, which can’t clear the barrel fast enough, so it simply explodes.
I’ve prepared a video of Squib explosions and their outcomes, in order for you to understand the danger involved (Warning: This video contains graphic images of blown up hands):
Because of this danger, there’s only one combination any soldier will avoid: a live round with a Tampon loaded in the rubber extension.
But what’s Deri’s story from day one up until now? That he only fired Tampons. But if he wasn’t aware of the live bullet (as he started claiming after the tests concluded he did fire a live round) and his intent was only to fire a Tampon — Why didn’t he load a Tampon in the extension?!
What Deri is asking us to believe – like the rapist-doctor who just accidentally had a condom on – is that in unheard of chain of events, a live round was somehow “mixed-up” into his magazine. But it doesn’t end there: In that random moment that the live round came up from the magazine to be fired, Deri also simultaneously “forgot” to load a Tampon, thus – like the doctor – saved himself from the rifle exploding, while also killing Nawara.
And when we remember this deal actually proves the other murder (Abu Daher) and two attempted murders: Are we expected that to believe the same unheard of bullet mix-up, randomly synchronized with the “forgetting” of the Tampon – 4 times on the same day?!
I’ll remind you: we expect negligence not to recur. But if it does, we expect the results to be random – cause if you didn’t plan the “accident”, you surely didn’t anticipate the result. So even if you go beyond all reason and imagine that a mix-up which never happened previously, happened to the same guy 4 times on the same day, we’d still expect at least one of those times to end negatively for the shooter, with a barrel explosion. Amazingly, these “random accidents”, which Deri said he wasn’t aware of, always align with his betterment and his victim’s downfall.
The “forgotten Tampon” is a new “random mistake”. So if we add the 4 times it happened to the 10 mistakes\crimes we listed earlier, we now have 14 “mistakes”, which wound or kill Palestinians, and save Deri or provide his friends with the fun of shooting Arabs. This is what the Israeli prosecution has labeled (through the plea deal) “a negligent mix-up”. This is the “Jewish Roulette”: its the just like the Russian version, only the Arab always loses.
But what if Deri’s rifle didn’t explode?
As even “the sole mix-up theory” seems insane, one last theory came up, in which Deri did load a Tampon and the “mixed-up” bullet did hit it, but nothing happened; the bullet just kept on going. This option, is basically not an option at all.
The M193 bullet leaves the barrel of the M4 rifle at a velocity of roughly 900 meters per second. In this last theory, the claim is it hit the immobile Tampon at 900mps (3000fps), and was completely unfazed.
The Tampon weighs 48 grams while the projectile weighs only 3. Let us use an example to clarify what the defense and the prosecution have agreed in the plea deal happened:
This is the equivalent of a motorcycle made of Lead, hitting a parked car with no brakes (so it is free to move forward like the Tampon) at 3,240 kilometers per hour (2000mph), and not only does the motorcycle not explodes to pieces, but it pushes the car aside and keeps moving straight down the same path, without any change in trajectory.
In reality, the projectile should have exploded prior to leaving the rifle. Even if it hadn’t, It should have crashed into the Tampon and just remain stuck in the rubber extension. Even if by a miracle it got out, it should have lost any accuracy or stability, and just fallen in some random direction.
But the plea deal assumes all these impossibilities happened. Even than, according to the deal, the bullet found in Nawara’s bag, is the bullet which they claim hit the Tampon and still continued onward to hit Nawara. So even is you accept all this pseudoscience, that bullet hit the Tampon and continued, it still hit the Tampon at 3,240kmh (2,000mph). Yet the bullet shows no damage on its nose. Nothing. Crashed in to an object weighing 16 times its own weight, at 3,240kmh, and not even a scratch!
This of course, has no basis in science, except for “Jewish-ballistics” (First law of motion: an object will continue in its velocity and direction, unless acted upon by an exterior force, with the exception of the object being a bullet fired by a Jewish soldier at a Palestinian, which no force could stop or even damage it). Still, the prosecution claims it could happen, based on an opinion some “expert” gave them, which they refuse to show the public or even to Nawara’s family.
The irony or cynicism is that when everything just started, “experts” like Yekutiel and journalists explained how this is obviously Pallywood, because there’s no way the bullet went through Nawara and wasn’t squashed in its front. The same people who told us a bullet should have been crushed by hitting soft tissue at the relatively low velocity, now tell us that a bullet hitting rubber coated steel at its maximum velocity, shouldn’t show any damage at all.
This deal, as you’ve read, is based on this “science” and “logic”, that a lot of things that never happened before, happened and lead to a “bullet mix-up”. Then, Deri either “forgot” to load a Tampon, winning the “Jewish roulette” or he did load a Tampon but nothing happened to the bullet or it’s trajectory, and virtue of “Jewish ballistics”. And all these “coincidences”, happened 4 times, in the same day.
They say coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. It seems God’s chosen people have learnt from their anonymous maker’s way. They say coincidence is the word we use when we can’t see the levers and pulleys. I suggest it might also be the word we use, when we want them to remain unseen.
You’re now informed with all the facts of this incident and trial. If you’d like, you can participate in a “verdict poll” and judge Deri according to all you’ve learned. You should find Deri guilty of homicide or murder, if you’ve been convinced that is the case, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Though the term “reasonable doubt” was never officially quantified, research found that judges use a minimum of 90% and the unofficial standard is 95%.
While Deri’s defense surely raises doubts, i believe they’re not reasonable doubts. The conspiracy theories are at or close to 0% likely. The combination of the unprecedented “mix-up” theory with a “Jewish Roulette” (“forgetting” to load a Tampon just as the live round was fired) or with the “Jewish Ballistics” (a projectile which is unstoppable and undamageable), is also in the proximity of 0% and surely isn’t a “reasonable doubt”.
If such a combination is “reasonable” than we’d expect to find many such incidents. Yet though Israel fires millions of rubber coated steel cylinders a year, by thousands of different soldiers, and has done so for the last 30 years, this has never happened. Surely, just by dividing the amount of rubber coated cylinders fired, by the number of times this has been claimed to lead to the result we have in this case (which is just 1 time; just Deri), we can see this combination is way below a 5% probability and actually much closer to 0%. Surely the best test for something’s probability, is the actual amount of time it repeat itself. If Deri’s case is so probable, than why don’t we see many other Deris? Why don’t we see any?
With this, “the prosecution” (which Nawara should have had) rests. Now you decide.
Eishton is an Israeli anonymous investigative blog, which relies solely on donations from its readers. The following post is the result of roughly 350 hours of research, writing and editing + 80 hours for the English translation. If you found the content worthy, please donate by clicking here.
For the next poll I’d ask you to forget the law, standards for “reasonable doubt” or Deri, and just say what you think happened:
And lastly, I’d like you to imagine a reverse scenario: Young Jewish settlers are throwing rocks at Palestinian police officers. What do you think would’ve been the outcome of a trial in Israel, of a Palestinian officer who would’ve done exactly what Deri did (including in the investigation and on Facebook)? A Palestinian officer who makes exactly the same claims, faced with the same evidence and the same Judge and prosecutors?
Deri’s “virtual trial” basically ends here. I now continue to deal with the systemic problems behind the case, which allowed Deri to do what he did and will allow the next “Deri”, to do the same. I also end with my final thoughts and opinions on the moral implications this has on all Israelis.
I’d appreciate you reading a little further on, but if not, thanks for reading thus far.
Deri’s Negligence deal was based on supportive negligence from the media
From day one Israeli media has not only supported Deri’s defense but actually gave rise to many of the conspiracy theories we’ve discussed. The facts that came later – the bullet testing and autopsy – were mentioned, but not in depth and nowhere near the lengths given to the “experts” with their initial “tests”, that found Deri innocent and the Palestinians guilty.
The hypocrisy and bias of Israeli media becomes painfully obvious as you look at the way they dealt with the rubber bullet extension:
Just as the footage of the incident came out, they rushed to find “experts” which explained a live round cannot be fired through the rubber extension. This opinion was presented as fact, and was shown on the 8 o’clock News edition on channel 2 (most popular news edition in Israel). A week later i got the manufacturer’s brochure and proved this was false. No follow up was done, and no apology or correction\retraction made.
Now the plea deal is signed based on a reverse version of the same lie: We started with innocence based on the “fact” a live bullet cannot be fired through an empty extension, and we ended with innocence based on the “fact” that it can be fired through a loaded one (with a Tampon). The irony…
But the first lie was when Deri was accused, and the second came when he was acquitted. In a “patriotically” biased mind, what could be gained from checking it now? When the Jewish soldier seemed guilty, they invested time and energy in understanding physics and forensics, trying to find an exonerating explanation or “expert”. When the Jewish soldier is acquitted, the interest in science is no more. When a simple video showed guilt, they dwelled into any possible angle and theory, to show the “true” face of Palestinians. When a simple plea deal explanation showed innocence of the Jewish soldier, it was taken at face value.
This isn’t the assumption of innocence, but the demand for one. If you can prove he is actually innocent: great! lets show the world and ourselves how we’re a law abiding democratic country with a moral army, and how the Palestinians are liars. But when the demand for innocence doesn’t fit the evidence at hand? Silence.
Note that the Hebrew version of this article came out before the deal was signed, and this blog is read by Journalists in all the big Israeli newspapers and TV channels. They didn’t just “miss it” or didn’t understand it. It’s worth mentioning, that over the last two decades Israelis are increasingly boycotting media outlets which criticize Israel’s actions regarding Arabs or the army – especially with regards to morality isuues. So be it profits, blind patriotism or racism, like Americans’ ignorance regarding the actions of their army, so are Israelis blinded regarding the IDF’s.
This isn’t all bad. It also means that most Israelis are misinformed, which means their beliefs and stands – Currently very right-winged and anti-peace (in any form that is actually possible) – don’t necessarily derive from racism. The peace camp hasn’t shrunk in Israel, as polls and elections seem to indicate (or at least not to the extent they indicate), but rather the educated and inform camp has. Like in Trump’s xenophobic America, many Israelis do hate Palestinians: not the ones living beyond the border, but the ones living within the borders of mainstream media; Not the millions of humans whom they don’t really know, but their depiction on TV which they fear, hate and know by heart.
Deri’s negligence is based on the army’s prior negligence
Deri’s “negligence” (or the plea deal he got for negligence), is based on a prior systemic negligence by the army: the replacement of the old, unsafe magazines. As you can see in the pictures above and below, The blank bullets have no projectile, and are therefore shorter by about 1cm.
For decades there’s a solution to the mix-up possibility, which is almost stupidly simple: A narrower magazine, which live rounds cannot fit inside. The IDF is aware of these magazines and has made partial replacements over the years, but never updated the whole army, though the cost is only a few millions (more was spent on Deri’s trial alone).
It’s said that the IDF always corrects itself – it just needs a blood stain to indicate the location of the problem. Deri’s company’s magazines were all replaced to the modern and safe standard, right after Deri killed two Palestinians and wounded two more.
A killer’s guide
The legal standard set by Deri’s plea deal, actually defines how to murder Palestinians and get away with it. When the Israeli court system turns (in the case of a Jewish soldier killing a Palestinian) “doubt” into “reasonable doubt”, it in fact eliminates the possibility of conviction. Deri’s case is a precedent which basically decriminalizes the killing of Palestinians.
Lets detach from the people for a moment, and concentrate on the facts:
What now prevents the next Jewish soldier\police-officer from shooting Palestinians with live rounds, then say there was a “mix-up” in the bullets, and walk away from it (if there’s no video) or get a symbolic punishment (if it’s taped like with Deri)?
What we have here is a simple plan, easy to execute, which has already been tested on the field. It takes you step by step on how to murder an Arab with no repercussions (if you’re not filmed) or virtually no repercussions (if you are).
Deri’s trial takes the concept of “reasonable doubt” to mathematical absurdity, in which maybe a live bullet somehow got in; and maybe by chance he forgot to load the Tampon; or maybe the bullet defied physics and went through the Tampon; and maybe the other dead and wounded are unrelated; and maybe there’s nothing to be deduced from the shootings being illegal (even if it was just rubber) and with malice; and maybe He and his friends letting a photographer snipe at Palestinians for fun means nothing; and maybe Deri posting a photo which shows pride in the killings doesn’t indicate guilt; and maybe he’s support of the most Arab-hating groups and people in Israel doesn’t show a motive; and maybe he meant nothing when he told his parents “don’t be angry with me”; and maybe the phrase “not over the phone” which he replied to his friends who wanted to know what he did, doesn’t mean what it always means.
With this unreasonable definition of “reasonable doubt”, no soldier will ever be convicted of murdering a Palestinian. And that’s the bigger problem with Deri’s case: when the system bends so much for an individual, it distorts the law beyond the trial at hand. it doesn’t just acquit the person or the incident, but also the method used.
A desired Lacuna
About 1,700 innocent Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces from 2000 to 2013. Roughly 10% of those lead to 179 investigations. About 10% of those investigations, became 16 indictments, of which, 6 were convicted. Five of the convicted got half a year or less, and only one convicted killer – a Bedouin soldier (/non-Jew), who killed a British peace activist (/non-Arab) – got 6.5 years. This is “the big fear” that Israelis have been indoctrinated to believe in, which supposedly ties the hands of the army and leaves soldiers unable to perform “without a lawyer at their side”.
These 1,700~ non-involved but dead Palestinians, lead to a total jail time of 2,777 days in prison, which averages at 39.2 hours in jail for every innocent dead Palestinian. If we remove the Bedouin soldier who killed a British citizen and focus on Jewish soldiers killing Palestinians, than we get 405 days in Jail, which averages 6 hours in prison for every innocent dead Palestinian.
So contrary to what Israelis are being told by the media, not only are Israeli soldiers not being persecuted (by the courts, the left and the world), but rather the whole “persecuted soldiers” lie, serves to avoid or minimize any real justice and any backlash or active involvement in Israeli crimes, by the international community and the International criminal court (ICC).
This by the way, isn’t a secret. Politicians fearing the Israeli public’s backlash when soldiers are on trial, openly admit on Israeli TV that it’s better we put them on trial here in Israel, where they’ll get very little punishment if any at all, as apposed to avoiding trials and then exposing ourselves to the ICC intervening, which will likely lead to harsher\real punishments and with time, perhaps even sanctions.
As such, an Israeli soldier who killed a Palestinian – regardless of the circumstances or the evidence – and is the one in 300~ cases that Israel decided to investigate, indict and convict in, can expect internal punishment (like being demoted or confined to the base), sometimes a few weeks in prison, but never more than a few months.
The sad truth which emerges from this data, is that while we do make “killer guides” for killing Palestinians, unless you’re really negligent like Deri – not with the “mix-up” which never happened, but for committing your crime in front of cameras and then taking pride in it publicly – they’re not needed.
Deri’s case is one of the worst in the IDF’s history, with regards to the killing of Palestinians. It’s not that there haven’t been graver crimes or more victims per one criminal, but never has a (serial) killing been so well documented, so that the whole media, army and public, can see and judge for themselves. And when a trial is exposed to the public, the public too is trialed.
This isn’t one of those occasions were Israelis are asked to believe Palestinian witnesses or even Israeli human rights organizations, while actual objective facts are unavailable. This isn’t even the case of Elor Azaria in which the public might find the action wrong, but could find empathy for a soldier’s vengeance-killing, of the person who stabbed his friends (and finds little empathy for the executed stabber).
Here the Israel-Jewish society must decide if it actively and publicly supports the murder of Palestinians, who not only weren’t a danger when they were shot (Like in Azaria’s case) but even prior to that, when they threw stones, didn’t hurt anyone. Do we support murder not in the chaos of a war zone or a fast-paced zero-thought situation, but a calm safe killing, from behind an elevated wall and 80m away, premeditated and planned to be concealed as rubber “bullets” only. Regretfully, i believe we’ve made this decision, and it is a clear “yes”.
Ben Deri is the innocent murderer for we, the Israeli-Jews, are his guilty judges. His shot and the shots of those like him, are for us the opening shots for a doubt-marathon, in which we become the greatest skeptic-runners of all time, the Sherlock Holmeses in the pursuit of Jewish innocence, contemplating conspiracy theories, debating the the forensic conclusions and the evidence – which ironically or as testament to our hypocrisy, the more of which there is, the weaker it becomes.
We patriotically mock someone for believing the “insane” probability that in this modern age, just as a Palestinian was shot, a camera was there to capture it. “How convenient!”, they’ll say laughingly at your “lefty naiveness”, blinding you from the “obvious” Pallywood conspiracy at work. But an unprecedented bullet mix-up, just as the shooter “forgot” to load a Tampon or a bullet which went through the Tampon with no regards to physics? That, obviously, is perfectly reasonable.
Where there are no witnesses, the Jewish soldier is innocent for lack thereof. Where there are witnesses, the Jewish soldier is innocent due to the suspiciousness of all these “witnesses” who are there just as they are needed. In Holmes’ shoes walk the Israeli holmeses:
“Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”
And once we’ve eliminated the impossible – convicting a Jewish soldier of murdering a Palestinian – We’re willing to accept any “truth”, however improbable it might be.
Lately, we’ve gone even beyond that, for i don’t think anyone really believes the ridiculous explanations given to justify these murders. Most of the time, the accused killers are welcomed by the public and surely by the far-right circles, as heroes who did an intentful action, while to the cameras and in the courts they’ll claim some unintended mix-up. The same people who’d explain to you how some theory exonerates the soldier with accordance to the law, will tell you ,as those theories disintegrate, that we should “support the troops” and that the laws are wrong. Law abiding for as long as the law abides to their will.
For in the end, we all know:
The light which falls on a bullet fired at a Palestinian, always casts a shadow of doubt beneath it. The light shined at a bullet fired on a Jew, always exposes malice. And not the lack of light leads to this discrimination, but the lack of the enlightened.
Many are the paths of the Jewish bullet to the Palestinian heart – From self defense to a cosmic accident they shall branch. But behold this magic: though no Jewish bullet knows the path of murder, no Palestinian heart it shall penetrate and find undeserving of death. The Judeo-military complex and divine providence have come to our rescue once more: Those whose morality prohibits murder, accidentally and repeatedly kill those whom they believe to be murder worthy.
The skeptics will say that this coincidence, where homicidal bullets negligently cause the death of those who deserve to die, is too convenient to be taken seriously. But believe us that we send our soldiers to meet our Palestinian neighbors with the highest regards for morality and explicitly teach that they are as human as we are.
“So where do the Deris and Azarias come from? Where do you Israelis who support them come from? And how is it that they’re always acquitted from any meaningful crime and serve no significant jail time?”, you might ask.
The thing is… We tried to convict them. We really did. But… ahh… well… there was a mix-up.
Eishton is an anonymous Israeli investigative blog, which relies solely on donations from its readers. The following post is the result of roughly 350 hours of research, writing and editing + 80 hours for the English translation. If you found the content worthy, please donate by clicking here.