TEL AVIV – Several members of Knesset have slammed Israel’s Defense Ministry over the death of an Arab-Israeli teen killed by Egyptian fire close to the security fence on Israel’s border with the Sinai.
15-year-old Nimer Bassem Abu Amar, who will be buried in his hometown of Lakiya Wednesday, was a Bedouin Arab employed by a civilian subcontractor hired by the Defense Ministry.
It is not clear who fired the shots across the border but the military has ruled out terrorism.
After the shooting, an Israel Air Force Blackhawk helicopter evacuated Abu Amar to a hospital where he later succumbed to his wounds. An autopsy is being carried out on the teen’s body to determine more about the perpetrator.
Abu Amar’s father Bassem accused the IDF of failing to provide protection for border workers.
“My son took a bullet in his upper body, and the guys [fellow employees] fled to a riverbed,” Bassem told reporters outside the hospital.
“The IDF arrived and hid, to my sorrow. This is the Defense Ministry; these are soldiers, they’re supposed to respond. You don’t do this work without the IDF. When there was shooting, they didn’t respond, didn’t shoot. I want to know where the army was,” he said.
According to witnesses, Abu Amar had stepped outside the fence but was still within Israel’s borders when an Egyptian soldier guarding the other side yelled at him to return to the Israeli side.
The IDF said it didn’t return fire because the shooting stopped immediately.
Egyptian security sources said the shots were fired during a clash between smugglers and Egyptian border guards, Sky News Arabia reported. The IDF declined to comment on the report while the investigation is ongoing, it said.
Likud MK Yehuda Glick offered his condolences to the boy’s family and lambasted the Defense Ministry for allowing underage workers.
“It’s terrible to me,” he wrote on his Twitter account, adding, “I don’t understand how the Defense Ministry employs such a young boy.”
MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) responded by saying that it’s “outrageous that the Defense Ministry employs children, I intend to propose an urgent debate in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee at the start of the winter session next week.”
“The Defense Ministry is too big an elephant to hide behind a contracting company,” and it must recognize the boy as a defense employee killed in action, said Bar-Lev.
The Defense Ministry is investigating the incident, including details surrounding the civilian subcontractor’s employment of a minor.
Bassem, the father, described his son as “modest, hard-working and serious.”
“They abandoned him,” he said.