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Israeli border officer held in shooting death of Palestinian teen

A member of the Israeli security forces is arrested in the shooting death of a Palestinian teen

A member of the Israeli security forces has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Palestinian teenager, police said Wednesday.

The development comes as Israeli police are on the defensive over the recent fatal shootings of Palestinians who rammed cars into crowds of tramway passengers in Jerusalem, killing four people in two separate incidents.

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FOR THE RECORD

7:14 a.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that the unnamed Israeli officer had been arrested in connection with the shooting of two  Palestinian teenagers. He is being held in the death of one of the two teens killed May 15.

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In addition, authorities are investigating last week’s police shooting of an Arab man in the northern Israeli village of Kafr Kana -- an incident that sparked days of fierce protests in Arab towns inside Israel.

The Palestinian teen was one of two killed on May 15 in Bitunya, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, during annual protests marking what is known to Palestinians as the Nakba — the commemoration of the displacement of Palestinians that came with Israel’s establishment in 1948.

Nadim Nowarra, 17 and Muhammad Abu Daher, 15, were among a group of youths throwing rocks at Israeli troops near a military prison in the area, officials said. The military said troops had used rubber bullets to disperse what it called violent rioting, and denied having used live ammunition. The two youths were killed more than an hour apart, officials said.

Images of the incident obtained from a nearby private security camera were circulated by rights groups a week later and appeared to show that neither teen was engaged in confrontations with troops, or even close to them when they were killed.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon backed the troops at the time, saying they were in danger and appeared to have acted appropriately. Army and military police officials investigated the incident but said they could not immediately determine how the teens were killed, amid conflicting testimony from troops involved in the incident.

Nowarra’s father, though, showed CNN a bullet he said was wedged in the schoolbag his son was carrying on his back when he was hit, and an autopsy performed on the teenager supported the claim that he was killed by live ammunition. The family of the second youth did not agree to an autopsy.

According to Israeli media reports Wednesday, military police obtained a bullet from Palestinian authorities and matched it with a serviceman’s rifle. He was reported to have been arrested Tuesday on suspicion that he fatally shot Nowarra and lied to investigators.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that an enlisted member of the paramilitary border police had been arrested in connection with the incident, but said the investigation was continuing and that details of the probe remained under a gag order.

The suspect’s name was not released, but Israeli media reported that he was arraigned Wednesday in a Jerusalem court, which accepted a police request to extend his time in custody for an additional five days.

After two Israelis were killed in separate stabbing attacks by Palestinians on Monday, Israeli authorities vowed tough measures to curb violence. Police forces were beefed up in Israeli cities and towns, and hundreds of troops were redeployed in the West Bank.

Tensions continued to simmer, with Palestinians on Wednesday reporting the overnight torching of a mosque in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayir, leaving it heavily damaged. Palestinian officials called it an arson attack and blamed Jewish settlers. In northern Israel, a firebomb was thrown at a synagogue.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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