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Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teen during clashes in Tuqu

Jan. 16, 2017 5:27 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2017 2:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during clashes in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu in the southern occupied West Bank on Monday afternoon, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) ambulance service said.

A PRC spokesperson told Ma'an that 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour was shot with live ammunition in the chest at least three times, and that Israeli forces had detained him for an unspecified period of time before handing over his body to the health organization.

Doctors who examined the teenager's body at al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala told Ma'an they counted six bullet holes in al-Umour's chest and lower extremities.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that "violent riots" erupted in Tuqu with "hundreds" of Palestinian youth throwing stones at Israeli border police.

"Israeli border police fired 0.22-caliber rounds towards the main instigator, resulting in his death," the spokesperson said, adding that no Israelis were wounded during the clashes.

However, a video of the events taken by Palestinian journalist Hisham Abu Sharqah immediately after al-Umour was shot seemingly contradicted the Israeli army's allegation that al-Umour was the "main instigator" in the clashes.

The video shows Israeli forces running towards the teenager's motionless body, lying in a field of olive trees at least 100 meters away from the road where the clashes were taking place.

A young Palestinian man can be seen crouching next to al-Umour before running away, just as Israeli forces begin running from the road towards the teenager.

As the Israeli soldiers reach al-Umour's motionless body lying face down in the ground, one soldier can be seen stumbling on al-Umour's legs, while another one gets on top of him, forcefully turning him onto his back before more soldiers arrive. The video then shows four soldiers, each carrying one of al-Umour's arms or legs, dragging the motionless teen to the road in an area surrounded by soldiers and armored jeeps.

It remained unclear whether al-Umour was already dead when Israeli forces got a hold of him, or if he succumbed to his injuries while in custody.

Four other Palestinians, including a woman, were also shot and injured during the clashes, PRC reported, although the army spokesperson said she did not have further information on the matter.

Locals told Ma’an that clashes broke out near the western entrance of the village on Monday afternoon, with Israeli forces firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at Palestinian youth.

It remained unclear the circumstances under which the clashes broke out, though the road where the clashes took place is a shared Palestinian and Israeli road that typically erupts in such clashes.

Al-Umour is the fourth Palestinian to have been confirmed killed by Israeli forces in 2017. Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the first two weeks of the year.

In 2016, Ma'an recorded the deaths of 112 Palestinians, 15 Israelis, and three foreign nationals.

Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their excessive use of force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents which could have been handled without the use of deadly violence.

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