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Israeli army probe reveals soldiers not in danger during killing of 15-year-old

Oct. 25, 2016 10:15 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2016 10:17 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli internal army investigation into recent incidents of Israeli soldiers killing or severely injuring Palestinians in the occupied West Bank revealed that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not at risk when 15-year-old Khalid Bahr Ahmad Bahr was shot to death after allegedly throwing a stone at a soldier, according to an internal document obtained by Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday.

The internal investigation into Bahr's killing revealed that the soldiers were not in imminent danger and did not act 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 Bahr's killing that soldiers were "attacked" by Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers while they were patrolling the area near Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank. 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 at the time claimed that the teenager was shot in the back, and according to the investigation, the soldiers said that they had “got out of their army jeep and began chasing the stone throwers” when the soldiers’ commander opened fire on Bahr, killing him.

While the internal investigation determined the soldiers were not in imminent danger at the time, the Israeli army commander has kept firm to his story that the soldiers were indeed in danger, according to Haaretz.

Meanwhile, the killing of 23-year-old Rahiq Shaji Birawi at the Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus was also under investigation, as the case reportedly documented that Birawi was shot more than 30 times by Israeli forces after she allegedly approached a border police officer with a knife.

According to Haaretz, one of the Israeli soldiers had opened live fire on Birawi’s legs, wounding her, before four other Israeli officers also shot live bullets at her, which was caught on video.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement at the time of the killing that Birawi approached Israeli border guards stationed at the Tappuah junction -- the Israeli term for the area around the checkpoint -- when they fired warning shots into the air. After she "ignored their directives and their calls for her to stop," Birawi allegedly pulled out a knife, and Israeli forces opened live fire and "neutralized" her.

The incident is still being investigated by an internal army probe.

Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response, resulting in the killing of 235 Palestinians by Israeli forces and settlers since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015.

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