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Israeli army opens probe after Palestinian teen shot dead for throwing stones

Oct. 23, 2016 3:18 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 24, 2016 12:36 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers aim towards Palestinian youths during clashes in the West Bank town of Hebron on October 4, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader/File)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli military police opened an internal probe on Friday into the killing of 15-year-old Khalid Bahr Ahmad Bahr, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Thursday in Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank, after soldiers claimed he was among a group of youths throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the probe will look into whether the soldiers responsible for Khalid's death followed procedure in accordance with the army’s “open-fire regulations,” which state that “soldiers should not shoot to kill unless they are in an immediate and clear danger.”

An Israeli army spokesperson said at the time of Khalid's killing that soldiers were "attacked" by Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers while they were patrolling the area near Beit Ummar. 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 fired "towards the suspect, resulting in his death."

Local reports claimed that the teenager was shot by Israeli forces in the back, with the bullet exiting through his chest.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad also told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers had 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.

Khalid 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, particularly minors, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response, with a report released recently by Palestinian NGO BADIL warning of an increasing trend of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian youth with live fire.

Israeli authorities have also dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks, 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 is a natural reaction to 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 forces.
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