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Israeli forces kill unarmed Gaza teen

July 19, 2009 9:50 P.M. (Updated: July 21, 2009 8:15 P.M.)
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian teenager injured by Israeli fire on Sunday night was dead by Monday afternoon, according to the country's military.

Palestinian medial sources eventually identified the boy as 15-year-old boy Ahmad As-Samari.

He was taken to Soroka University Medical Center in the city of Beersheba late on Sunday in critical condition after having received chest injuries, and he died of his wounds there overnight, a hospital spokeswoman said. She said he died two hours after he arrived.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the death to Ma'an. He said that soldiers who searched the Palestinian found that he was unarmed. The spokesman also said that soldiers had aimed at As-Samari's lower body, but could not confirm which part of his body was injured. The boy was also wearing a heavy jacket, unusual for the summer, the spokesman said.

Reports throughout the day were contradictory, with multiple Israeli news sources reporting a different series of events, all quoting military officials. Gaza's Health Ministry also released apparently incorrect information that the boy suffered just light injuries to the foot, and that he was taken to a different hospital.

Israel's army had previously been quoted as stating that under interrogation the boy admitted intending to "infiltrate" the country, which if true would have been despite his chest injuries. The Soroka Hospital spokeswoman cast doubt on that report, stating that the boy was unconscious by the time he arrived.

Gaza medics told Ma'an on Sunday night that the boy was only moderately injured after being shot in the foot, and that after being arrested he was taken to Barzilai Hospital inside Israel. Other Hebrew reports said Barzilai, as well. The Jerusalem Post newspaper too reported that the boy was only moderately injured, quoting army sources, while other news outlets said he was shot in the leg rather than foot.

According to the Israeli military's official version of events, a military patrol spotted the boy approaching the electric fence in the northern Gaza Strip, shooting him when he refused to stop. A spokesperson confirmed to Ma'an that the boy was indeed unarmed, and insisted that his death was unintentional.

Israeli forces routinely patrol a "buffer zone" up to 500 meters wide along the Green Line, inside Palestinian territory. Palestinians who approach the border are often shot, especially farmers, since Gaza's most fertile land is in the north. As-Samari was a farmer, according to the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
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