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B'Tselem: Palestinian 'did not pose any danger' when killed by sniper during clashes

Feb. 6, 2017 2:40 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 7, 2017 3:54 P.M.)
Ahmad al-Kharroubi (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces in December did not represent a threat when he was shot dead by an Israeli army sniper, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a report published on Sunday.

Ahmad al-Kharroubi, 19, was shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition during clashes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab on Dec. 22, as Israeli forces were carrying out a raid to partially demolish the house of Palestinian Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October after carrying out a deadly shooting attack.

Al-Kharroubi was shot by a sniper in the neck, succumbing to his injuries shortly before arriving to the hospital.

According to Ma’an documentation, the youth was one of 112 Palestinians to have been killed in 2016 in Israeli-Palestinian violence, 23 of whom were killed in clashes or army raids. Fifteen Israelis were killed during the same time period.

At the time, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that Israeli forces had shot and killed al-Kharroubi after he threw improvised explosive devices at soldiers.

However, testimonies collected by B’Tselem stated that “no incendiary device was thrown at the security forces from the area where al-Kharroubi and the other youths were positioned.”

The organization reported that a group of Palestinian youths, including al-Kharroubi, were hiding in between two buildings behind a low wall nearly 100 meters away from Israeli jeeps forming a roadblock between them and the bulk of the clashes that night.

“There were hardly any clashes on our side of the roadblock,” D.D., one of the Palestinians who witnessed the scene, told B’Tselem. “From the south, on the other side of the jeeps we heard the sounds of stun grenades and live gunfire, but we couldn’t see the clashes.

“Fifteen minutes after we arrived, a sniper fired a live bullet that hit Ahmad, but no one could see him or work out where the sniper was -- on a roof or on the ground,” D.D. added. “One of the guys approached Ahmad and another shot was fired toward him, but it didn’t hit anyone. The guys who were close to Ahmad lifted him up and moved him to the sidewalk.”

B’Tselem stated that the youths' position between 80 and 100 meters away from Israeli soldiers meant that "they could not pose any danger.”

“At the time al-Kharroubi was shot in the neck and killed, and at the time the snipers fired toward the other youths attempting to remove al-Kharroubi, the youths were not posing a threat to anyone,” B'Tselem wrote. “Firing at the torso of a person hiding behind a wall, even if he were throwing stones at the security forces, is unjustified and illegal.”

B’Tselem emphasized that al-Kharroubi's “pointless death” occurred during a raid to carry out a punitive demolition, calling both “illegal” and “immoral.”

B’Tselem ceased referring cases to Israeli military law enforcement in May, deeming the effort “ineffective” or likely to be used to whitewash the army’s crimes.

“The obligation to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for such incidents remains on the shoulders of the military system, but as long as the (Military Advocate General) Corps persists in it systemic whitewashing, nothing will deter security force personnel from continuing to shoot and kill Palestinians who do not present a danger,” the group stated.
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