Israel finds no wrongdoing in paraplegic Palestinian's death

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2017 2:34 PM
Israel finds no wrongdoing in paraplegic Palestinian's death

JERUSALEM (AP) — An investigation by the Israeli military into the death of a paraplegic Palestinian man cleared Israeli troops of wrongdoing on Monday, saying it found "no moral or professional failures" in the incident.

Palestinian health officials say Ibrahim Abu Thraya, 29, was shot in the head while demonstrating last week along Gaza's border with Israel, an area that has experienced repeated unrest since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital this month.

Abu Thraya's death has become a rallying cry among Palestinians against Trump's move, which upended decades of U.S. foreign policy and countered an international consensus that the fate of Jerusalem should be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The military said Friday's protest was "extremely violent," with protesters hurling stones, burning tires and explosive devices at troops. In its findings Monday, it said no live fire was aimed at Abu Thraya and it was impossible to determine the cause of death. The military said it has repeatedly requested details about Abu Thraya's injuries and will examine them if they are received. The military did not disclose from whom it had requested details.

Abu Thraya, who had previously worked as a fisherman, lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike during a 2008 war between Israel and Hamas. According to relatives, he was assisting in the evacuation of people after an earlier airstrike when he was struck. He had since used a wheelchair.

Itedal Abu Thraya, Ibrahim's mother, questioned the military's self-investigation and said her son posed no threat.

"He was only holding a flag, not an explosive belt or a bomb," she said. "I do not trust them or their investigations."

Israeli military investigations have drawn criticism from rights groups and Palestinians who charge that they are not independent or effective, citing a low indictment rate. The military insists the system works.

Jerusalem's status has been a central issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Trump's pivot drew widespread criticism from U.S. allies in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in Europe and beyond. It sparked violent protests across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Gaza militants have stepped up rocket fire on Israel, which has responded with airstrikes.

Earlier Monday, the military said overnight airstrikes targeted a training camp of Gaza's Hamas rulers in response to new rocket attacks out of the Palestinian territory.

In all, at least eight Palestinians have been killed in the violence since Trump's announcement.

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Associated Press writer Fares Akram contributed to this report from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.