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PLO condemns 'extrajudicial execution' of teen, Israel blames 'Palestinian incitement'

June 21, 2016 6:47 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2016 8:26 P.M.)
Saeb Erekat talks after an Arab Peace Initiative Committee meeting in 2012 (AFP)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian leadership reacted to the “cold-blooded assassination” of a 15-year-old Palestinian early Tuesday morning by calling for an immediate UN-led investigation, while Israeli leadership reportedly blamed the incident on “incitement and Palestinian terror.”

Mahmoud Rafat Badran and his family had been driving home from a swimming pool when Israeli forces showered their car with gunfire, killing Mahmoud, and seriously injuring his two brothers 16-year-old Amir and 17-year-old Hadi, as well as Daoud Abu Hassan, 16, and Majd Badran, 16.

The Israeli army later admitted they “mistakenly” opened fire on the innocent bystanders after Palestinian youth were reportedly throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles nearby. Israeli media initially reported that Mahmoud and his teenage companions were “terrorists.”

Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulances reportedly said that Israeli soldiers prevented paramedics from reaching the wounded Palestinians for over an hour and a half.

A statement released hours after the incident by PLO General Secretary Saeb Erekat condemned the “brutal attack in the strongest terms.”

“This cold-blooded assassination reaffirms our calls to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, to initiate an immediate extensive investigation into Israeli extrajudicial killings of Palestinians; particularly children,” the statement read.

“The international community has the responsibility to stop allowing Israel’s impunity for the crimes it commits against the occupied land and people of Palestine.”

The statement pointed out that the incident took place near a bypass road for Israelis, built on private Palestinian land, referred to as route 443 but also known to Palestinians as Apartheid Road.

Spokesperson for the Palestinian government Youssef al-Mahmoud also condemned Israel for Mahmoud Badran’s killing, echoing Erekat’s statement by demanding an international investigation into extrajudicial executions and the “inhumane” actions of the Israeli army against Palestinians.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their part said that extrajudicial killings carried out by Israeli forces came as “Netanyahu’s extremist right-wing government continues to reject all regional and international initiatives and efforts aiming to revive serious peace negotiations.”

“Israeli forces and terrorist settlers continue carrying out extrajudicial executions against our people regardless of their ages.”

The ministry stressed that the actions of Netanyahu’s government were proof of their increasingly extreme and oppressive policies against Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Ministry reportedly said in response to the incident that, “If it were not for the difficult security situation which is entirely the result of incitement and Palestinian terror, Israel would not be forced to use force in order to protect its civilians,” despite the Israeli army’s admission that Badran had nothing to do with the stone-throwing incident.

In recent months, Israel has accused numerous Palestinians of “inciting terror” and detained scores for Facebook posts that Israeli authorities alleged were responsible for an increase in alleged attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli military targets and settlers.

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

Erekat previously requested that the UN open an investigation into Israeli extrajudicial executions after an Israeli soldier unnecessarily shot and killed a wounded Palestinian in Hebron at point-blank range in March.

He said at the time he made the request during a meeting with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov.

While Israel had announced its own investigation into the "brutal execution," Erekat said that "historic facts" cast doubt on Israeli investigations, which he said had "yet to serve justice."

Erekat alleged that Israel had carried out 207 cases of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians between September and March.

The number appeared to refer to the total number of Palestinians killed since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, which to date has seen some 220 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

While several dozen Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces, the majority were shot dead after alleged attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers, with some 30 Israelis killed in the same period.

The Israeli army also previously claimed to have killed a Palestinian child by accident during the recent unrest.

However, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in many of these deadly encounters.

In a number of cases, they have argued the Palestinians were not attempting to carry out attacks at all, while in others, they have condemned Israeli forces for their excessive use of force where there was no imminent danger, in killings they say amount to "extrajudicial executions."

In recent years, the Palestinian leadership has made a concerted effort to apply pressure on Israel through a variety of international bodies such as the UN and International Criminal Court.

Erekat has pledged to supply evidence to the UN "in order to initiate immediate investigations into the current situation and bring justice to the people of Palestine."

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