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Soldiers shot 19-year-old Bader Nafle in the neck during a demonstration and killed him

On Friday, 7 February 2020, around 1:00 P.M., Palestinians held a demonstration by a concertina wire section of the Separation Barrier located west of the village of Qaffin, north of Tulk...
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Soldiers shot 19-year-old Bader Nafle in the neck during a demonstration and killed him

On Friday, 7 February 2020, around 1:00 P.M., Palestinians held a demonstration by a concertina wire section of the Separation Barrier located west of the village of Qaffin, north of Tulkarm. The demonstration was held as part of the protest waged in the West Bank since the Trump plan was declared on 28 January 2020. During the demonstration, several dozen youths lit tires and hurled stones and empty bottles towards a military jeep and at around five soldiers standing a few hundred meters away, on the other side of the fence. The soldiers hurled stun grenades and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the protestors. At the beginning of the demonstration, soldiers crossed through an open agricultural gate in the Separation Barrier and chased the youths several times. After that, they locked the gate.

Around 4:00 P.M., the five soldiers walked several hundred meters south to a military jeep that was waiting there. Shortly after, they drove north along the Separation Barrier, towards the agricultural gate. Video footage shows the military jeep approaching and stopping by the gate, while most of the youths, some of whom are hurling stones at the vehicle, stop and move away from the fence. Some youths, including 19-year-old Bader Nafleh, remained a few meters from the fence and continued throwing stones at the jeep, and then also drew back. A soldier sitting in the front passenger seat opened the door and fired at Nafleh from approximately 20 meters away, striking him in the neck. Nafleh was rushed to hospital in Tulkarm and pronounced dead shortly after.

The separation barrier near Qaffin where the demonstration took place. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 28 February 2020

Several youths who took part in the demonstration gave their testimonies to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, a few days after Nafleh was shot. One of them, ‘A.T., recounted:

Around 4:00 P.M., I was standing with Bader and a few other youths in front of the agricultural gate. Someone lit a rubber tire. The military jeep that was standing next to the southern opening of the fence drove towards the agricultural gate. The soldier sitting in the front passenger seat fired one round in our direction and hit my friend Bader Nafleh, who fell to the ground. My friend A. and I immediately picked him up. Luckily, there was a Palestinian ambulance nearby. I got into the ambulance with him and we drove to hospital in Tulkarm. Bader was bleeding heavily from his mouth and neck and couldn’t talk or move. The doctors at the hospital tried to save his life but they couldn't, and he passed away.

Bader Nafle. Photo courtesy of family.

About a week after Nafleh was killed, family members discovered, when they arrived at a checkpoint to enter Israel for work, that their entrance permits had been revoked. Permits were revoked from Bader’s father, 49-year-old Nidal, a married father of six who works as a construction laborer in Israel, and from Bader’s 26-year-old brother Anes, a married father of three who works at a carpentry shop in Israel. This practice is not new: Israel routinely revokes the work permits of relatives of Palestinians killed by its security forces, and sometimes even of people who bear no relation to the victims other than sharing their surname.

According to the military, in the demonstration, “dozens of Palestinians threw stones and hurled Molotov cocktails at the IDF soldiers, endangering the forces. During the disturbance, the fighters identified a Palestinian who was thowing a Molotov cocktail at them, and they responded with fire to remove the threat.”

However, B’Tselem’s investigation and video footage of the incident indicate that this description is completely unfounded and that no one hurled Molotov cocktails during the demonstration, or at the time of Nafleh’s shooting. The soldier who shot and killed Nafleh did so without any danger posed to him or the other soldiers, so there was no threat to be removed. The soldiers were inside an armored military jeep, on the other side of the Separation Barrier, about 20 meters away from the youths. Such lethal shooting is neither legal nor moral.

According to a media report, the Military Police Investigations Unit has launched an investigation. Yet as years of experience show, the purpose of such investigations is not to uncover the truth. Rather, they are part of the MAG Corps' whitewashing mechanisms.

  • On 28 February 2020, the media reported that an MPIU investigation had been launched.