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Israel implicated in shooting death of Palestinian bystander

Nov. 11, 2013 7:02 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2013 12:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A report released by Israeli human rights group B'tselem on Monday casts "grave suspicion" that a Palestinian killed in Qabatiya on Oct. 31 was shot dead with live ammunition fired by Israeli forces, despite their denials.

Based on interviews conducted with witnesses as well as security camera footage, the report suggests that Ahmad Tazazah was shot in the chest while watching Israeli forces attack protestors near his work place in the northern West Bank city.

Israeli forces had previously asserted that Tazazah was killed in intra-Palestinian violence prior to the clashes.

The report said that "eyewitness accounts recorded, the medical records of the Jenin government hospital and of the Red Crescent, along with the video footage of security cameras on site, all indicate Israeli military involvement in the shooting."

"The soldiers were not in any real danger during the incident. This gives rise to a grave suspicion that there was no justification for the use of live ammunition, let alone of aiming directly at Tazazah's chest," the report continued.

Around 5:15 a.m. an Israeli patrol passed in front of the vegetable market in which Tazazah worked, according to the report.

Local youths began throwing stones at the patrol as it passed, and in response the Israeli forces stationed themselves in front of the market, from where they launched tear gas grenades and shot rubber bullets and live ammunition at the youths protesting their presence.

A few minutes after the clashes began, Tazazah walked to the entrance of the shop to see what was happening. He peeked around the fence to get a better look.

"According to the eyewitness accounts, Tazazah was immediately hit by a bullet to the chest," the report said.

Video footage from outside the shop shows the moment when Tazazah was shot, while footage from inside the shop shows Tazazah stumbling back into the shop before falling onto the ground.

"Medical reports indicate that a live bullet penetrated Tazazah's chest between the second and third ribs, exiting through his back," the report continued.

Tazazah was dead before he reached the hospital, about 20 minutes later.

This evidence directly contradicts the statements of the spokesman of the Israeli forces, who had previously denied Israeli involvement in the killing.

The report also found that the hospital Israeli forces said Tazazah had been taken to had no record of his presence, indicating factual inaccuracies elsewhere in official statements.

Despite this, however, Israeli security forces refused to open any more than a "limited investigation" into the killing, in direct violation of their own policies.

B'tselem has stated its intention to continue demanding a full investigation, however.

"Stone-throwing during arrest operations is a predictable and recurring scenario. The military must be prepared to handle such situations with crowd control weapons and without resorting to lethal force," the report argues.

Israeli forces routinely raid West Bank towns and villages to arrest Palestinians, usually on the pretext of security questioning.

Israeli forces have killed at least 22 people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip this year.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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