Israeli forces Thursday evening shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian near the Beit Ummar junction in the northern part of the village of Beit Ummar in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Israeli authorities have claimed an Israeli soldier shot the teenager dead in response to a rock-throwing incident.
Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an that he saw the body of a young Palestinian on the ground near the entrance of Beit Ummar. The young Palestinian, later identified as Khalid Bahr Ahmad Bahr, 15, was reportedly shot by Israeli forces in the back, with the bullet exiting through his chest.
The spokesperson said one soldier was “lightly wounded’ by a rock and called one of the young Palestinian suspects to “halt,” fired warning shots in the air, and then “towards the suspect, resulting in his death.”
The spokesperson added that the incident is “under investigation.”
Awad also said that Israeli soldiers prevented a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance from approaching the youth, while witnesses said that Israeli forces refused to provide CPR to the youth after he was shot.
Israeli forces transferred the body of Bahr to an unknown location. However, Awad later said that Israeli authorities had informed the mayor of Beit Ummar that Bahr’s body would be returned on Friday after prayers for “investigations.” If Awad’s claim of the teen being shot in the back is upheld, it would cast doubts on the Israeli army’s version of events that Israeli forces were responding to an “attack.”
Hebrew media reported that another Palestinian youth was detained during the incident.
Bahr became the 235th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents that did not warrent a violent response.
Israeli authorities have also dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, detaining hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year. Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.”
Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a law last year setting sentences up to 20 years in prison for stone throwing if intent to harm could be proven, and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.
However, Palestinians have claimed that rock throwing by teenagers represents an innocuous reaction to the frustrations caused by the nearly half century Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been shaped by everyday forms of violence, such as nightly military raids into Palestinian communities, arbitrary detentions, home demolitions, and frequent killings of Palestinians by Israeli force