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18-year-old Palestinian remains in critical condition after deadly shooting

March 27, 2017 2:02 P.M. (Updated: March 28, 2017 9:58 A.M.)
A photo shared on social media purporting to show Jassem Nakhla, Muhammad Hattab, and Muhammad Nakhla.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- One of three 18-year-old Palestinians remained in critical condition on Monday, a medical official told Ma'an, after Israeli forces opened fire on them on Thursday in the central occupied West Bank, in a shooting that left another teenager dead.

Ahmad Bitawi -- the director of the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where Jassem Nakhla, Muhammad Hattab, and Muhammad Nakhla are currently being treated -- told Ma’an that all three of the young Palestinians were still in serious condition.

However, he said that two of them had seen some improvement over the past few days, while the third remained in very critical condition.

While Bitawi declined to identify which of the three were still hanging in the balance, he confirmed that one of the young Palestinians -- who Palestinian social media news outlets identified as Jassem -- had recently undergone surgery and was doing somewhat better.

Israeli forces shot at the young men, all residents of the al-Jalazun refugee camp in the Ramallah district of the West Bank, in contested circumstances on Thursday, with 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab succumbing to his wounds that same evening after being shot in the chest and shoulder.

Immediately following the attack, the Palestinian Ministry of Health described the health condition of the survivors, stating that Jassem Muhammad Nakhla had been shot in the head and foot, while Muhammad Hattab was shot in the abdomen, and Muhammad Moussa Nakhla was shot in the foot and shoulder.

The ministry told Ma’an that they did not have further information on the youths’ cases as of Monday.

Local sources told Ma'an at the time of the deadly shooting 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, claimed that the boys were throwing Molotov cocktails at the settlement, and that they were outside of their car when they were shot.

However, video and photographic footage taken by locals at the scene following the shooting showed the vehicle riddled with bullets, windows shattered, and blood staining the seats, casting doubt on the Israeli army’s narrative of the event.

When questioned by Ma’an about how the teens could have re-entered their car and driven away from the scene after being injured with multiple rounds of live fire to the head and chest, the Israeli army spokesperson said she could not comment.

Shortly after the deadly shooting, clashes erupted between locals of al-Jalazun refugee camp and Israeli forces who were deployed at the entrance of Beit El.

Muhammad al-Hattab was the 15th Palestinian to be confirmed killed by Israeli forces this year, and marked the third time that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor since the beginning of 2017.

Earlier this month, 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 claiming that Abu Ghazi was throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli settler vehicles.

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

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.
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