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Human Rights Watch Says Israeli Fire Killed Palestinian Youths

Human Rights Watch urged Israel to accept the results of a Palestinian autopsy indicating two Palestinian youths were killed last month by Israeli soldiers at a riot in the West Bank.

The New York-based group today cited an autopsy conducted on June 11 at the Palestinian Institute for Forensic Medicine in Ramallah, which found bullet fragments as well as entry and exit wounds from live fire in the body of one of the victims, 17-year-old Nadim Nuwarah. The procedure, witnessed by two Israeli pathologists, one from Denmark and one from the U.S., showed the Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli army snipers, Human Rights Watch said in an e-mailed statement.

Israeli authorities have maintained that troops used only non-lethal rubber-coated bullets against rock-throwing Palestinians and expressed skepticism about video footage shown as evidence the youths were killed by live ammunition. The Israeli Defense Ministry declined to comment today on the Human Rights Watch statement, which was published as the government closed off the West Bank in a search for three missing Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped.

“Israeli officials’ attempts to discredit evidence pointing to an apparent war crime by their forces raise grave concerns about accountability” for the deaths, Sarah Leah Whitson, the rights group’s Middle East director, said in the statement.

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