HEBRON, Palestine (AA): A Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Friday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“Murad Abu Ghazi, 16, was killed after being struck in the chest by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier during clashes that occurred in the Al-Aroub refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron [Al-Khalil],” the ministry said in a statement.
“Another Palestinian teenager was seriously injured after a bullet struck him in the chest,” it added.
Dr. Mustafa Takrouri, the director-general of the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, said the slain child, Morad Yousef Abu Ghazi, 16, was killed by a live round to the chest. He died while being transferred to the hospital.
Dr. Takrouri added that another child, identified as Saif Salim Roshdi, 17, was also shot with a live round in his chest, and is currently at the intensive care unit, suffering moderate-to-severe wounds.
[Photo of Morad Yousef Abu Ghazi. Photograph by imemc.org]
The Israeli army claims that the soldiers “ambushed Palestinians in the refugee camp as they attempted to hurl Molotov cocktails on military vehicles.”
His death also marked the second time this year that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor, who the Israeli army also claimed was throwing Molotov cocktails — a claim that has been widely rejected by video evidence and investigations undertaken by rights groups.
In January, Israeli forces shot 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour in the chest with live fire at least three times, in what was branded by rights groups as an unlawful and unjustified killing.
The Israeli army had claimed al-Umour was the “main instigator” among “hundreds” of Palestinian youth throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli border police.
However, Israeli NGO B’tselem released a report saying the Israeli army’s version of events “has no basis in reality,” pointing out that not only were no Molotov cocktails thrown prior to the shooting of al-Umour, but that the clashes — which involved only a dozen youths — had significantly calmed in the moments before the teen was killed.
The group’s investigation further revealed that al-Umour and his friends were at a distance of 80 to 100 meters from the security forces when he was killed, and thus could not have constituted a dancer to Israeli forces.
Palestinian legal NGO BADIL also concluded that “whether he was throwing stones at the soldiers or not, al-Umour could not have presented a lethal threat to the well-protected Israeli border police from a distance of around 100 meters, and the use of live ammunition against him was therefore unjustified.”
In dozens of cases, Israel’s version of events has been disputed by witnesses, activists, and rights groups who have denounced what they have termed a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner — amid a backdrop of impunity for Israelis who committed the killings.
Though the Israeli army and military police opened an official investigation into al-Umour’s death, the precedent set by cases such as that of 15-year-old Khalid Bahr, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October for allegedly throwing rocks at soldiers during a raid in a Hebron-area village, casts doubts on the likelihood of real accountability.
Abu Ghazi was the 13th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2017.
Since October of 2015, 266 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army, most of whom were shot dead while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis or while clashing with Israeli troops.
Israel, for its part, says 47 Israelis have been killed over the same period in attacks carried out by Palestinians.
Additional report from Imemc.org and maannews.com
[Photo: Family members of 16 year old Mourad Youssef shot dead by Israeli soldiers, mourn at the Al Ahli hospital in Hebron, West Bank on March 17, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Mamoun Wazwaz/AA]