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Thousands mourn slain Palestinian teen in Ramallah's al-Jalazun refugee camp

March 24, 2017 6:42 P.M. (Updated: March 26, 2017 4:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Thousands of Palestinians marched through the al-Jalazun refugee camp on Friday in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, for the funeral of 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, who was shot to death on Thursday by Israeli forces.

The funeral set off from the Palestine Medical Complex, where mourning Palestinians carried the slain body of al-Hattab on their shoulders and marched through the streets of the refugee camp before placing the body into an ambulance at the entrance of the camp. Thousands of mourners were waiting at the site of the ambulance.

Al-Hattab’s body was transported to his family’s home, where his parents and two sisters paid their final farewells to the family’s only son.

Al-Hattab’s mother fainted more than once, attempting to control her emotions as she held her son’s stiff body and kissed him.

Mourners, carrying al-Hattab on their shoulders, marched towards the al-Jalazun mosque where funeral prayers were performed.

Following prayers, the funeral procession led by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah movement, headed to the camp’s cemetery as gunshots were fired into the air.

Mourners shouted slogans calling for revenge over the killing of al-Hattab and all other Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, particularly Palestinian children.

Al-Hattab, who was shot in the chest and shoulder, succumbed to his wounds at the hospital on Thursday evening, while three other Palestinian youths who were injured during the shooting remained in critical condition.

Local sources told Ma'an at the time of the event that Israeli soldiers in a military tower near the entrance of the camp, which is located adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, fired heavily towards the teens’ vehicle while they were inside.

An Israeli army spokesperson, however, claimed that the boys were throwing Molotov cocktails at the settlement, and that they were outside of their car when they were shot.

“Three suspects exited a vehicle adjacent to the community of Beit El, where the suspects threw firebombs at the community. In response to the threat Israeli forces in the area fired towards the suspects, and several hits were confirmed. The suspects then fled the scene,” the spokesperson said.

In a video taken by locals at the scene, reporting to show the car in which the teenagers were shot at, the car can be seen with shattered windows and multiple bullet holes in the car's exterior, casting doubt on the Israeli army's claims that the boys were shot while outside of the vehicle.

Additionally, photos of the car released after the shooting showed heavily bloodstained seats and shattered glass inside the vehicle, further casting doubt on the Israeli army’s narrative of the event.

Shortly after the deadly shooting, clashes erupted between locals of al-Jalazun refugee camp and Israeli forces who were deployed at the entrance of the Beit El settlement. Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at protesters, while Palestinian youth threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.

Meanwhile, protesters marched from the Ramallah Government Hospital, where the four teens were taken after they were shot, through main streets in the city of Ramallah, demanding all stores and shops close in mourning for the slain teen.

Al-Hattab was the 15th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year.

In many cases, Israel’s version of events has been disputed by witnesses, activists, and rights groups who have denounced what they have termed a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israelis who committed the killings.

Al-Hattab's death marked the third time this year that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor.

Last week, Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Murad Yousif Abu Ghazi in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, with the Israeli army at the time saying that "firebombs were hurled at passing vehicles on a road near the village of al-Arrub. In response to the immediate threat, forces fired toward suspects."

The Israeli army also claimed that 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour was throwing Molotov cocktails -- a claim that was widely contradicted by video evidence and investigations undertaken by rights groups-- in January when Israeli forces shot al-Umour in the chest with live fire at least three times, in what was branded by rights groups as an unlawful and unjustified killing.
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