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UN calls on Israel to investigate deadly al-Fawwar raid

Aug. 23, 2016 1:48 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 23, 2016 7:43 P.M.)
Palestinian youth after being treated for gun shot injuries during al-Fawwar raid. Aug. 16
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, called on Israel to conduct a full investigation into the killing of a Palestinian teen by Israeli forces during an unprecedented raid into al-Fawwar refugee camp last week which left dozens others injured by Israeli fire.

In a statement released on Monday, the agency said it was “gravely concerned” about the killing of Muhammad Abu Hashhash -- who was reportedly unarmed when he was shot in the chest by a sniper stationed some 100 meters away -- and the numerous other injuries from Israeli live ammunition that lead to the hospitalization of dozens of Palestinian civilians.

According to the UN, at least 52 other camp residents were injured, 32 of which in the lower extremities by live fire. At least 13 other camp residents had to be treated for severe tear gas inhalation, including a pregnant UNRWA teacher who required treatment after suffering from tear gas inhalation while she was at her home.

UNRWA Director of West Bank Operations Scott Anderson commended in the statement “the selfless actions and collective effort of the medical teams from UNRWA and the Palestine Red Crescent Society who quickly responded in providing emergency medical care to the large number of civilians injured during the incursion into the camp,” and called on Israel to "uphold the standards of international law."

Witnesses told Ma’an that medics had been prevented from accessing the site, and that Israeli soldiers stopped a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance that was trying to evacuate a seriously injured young man, preventing the ambulance from leaving the camp for an hour.

UNRWA in their statement called on Israel to “ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment,” adding that “the intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

According to UNRWA, during the devastating raid, “refugees were also prevented from entering or leaving the camp and a curfew was enforced to keep people trapped in their homes -- a reminder of the recent closures in Hebron that created humanitarian access challenges for the 9,500 residents of Fawwar camp."

“Israeli authorities, as the occupying power, have a responsibility first to protect the civilian population in the West Bank, including the Palestine refugees residing there,” the UN agency insisted.

“In conducting so called ‘security’ or ‘law enforcement’ operations such as the one in al-Fawwar,” UNRWA said, they called on Israeli forces to “exercise restraint, act in proportion to the legitimate objective to be achieved, minimize damage and injury, and most importantly respect and preserve human life.”

According to Israeli army, the raid -- during which some 200 refugee households were searched and ransacked, with families reporting being locked inside rooms in their homes for hours on end -- was conducted as an “operational activity to uncover weaponry” and search for wanted Palestinians.

By the end of the 20-hour-long raid, the army said they had uncovered just two pistols, a commando knife, and some military equipment. Three Palestinians were detained, including a father and son after Israeli forces claimed to have found a broken gun in the house.

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