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Israel returns body of slain teenage girl to family in Ramallah

May 16, 2017 4:49 P.M. (Updated: May 16, 2017 6:25 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities returned the slain body of 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji to her family in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Tuesday, after the teenager was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier in the month under disputed circumstances.

Her body was delivered to representatives of the Palestinian Civil Affairs, military liaison, and Hjeiji’s father at Israel’s Ofer detention center. Her body was then placed in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance and taken to the Ramallah governmental hospital to undergo an autopsy.

Hjeiji, from the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid in Ramallah, was shot dead by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem for allegedly attempting to carry out an attack on Israeli police and border guards, with witnesses saying that Israeli forces had shot the girl at least 20 times.

After the shooting, an eyewitness told Ma’an that Hjeiji had been standing near Damascus Gate, more than ten meters away from a group of Israeli border guard soldiers, before she was killed.

"One of the soldiers started to shout ‘knife! knife!’ and moments after that, about five soldiers opened fire at her from every direction," he said.

Another witness said that the girl was “executed in cold blood,” expressing shock at the extent of indiscriminate force used on the teenage girl, allegedly armed with only a knife.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem also released a report on the shooting, and stated that Hjeiji could not have posed a threat to Israeli forces, but rather the case represented another incident of Israel’s “shoot-to-kill” policy for Palestinian alleged or actual attackers.

“The police -- who were standing behind a metal barrier, were armed and wearing protective gear -- could have subdued Hjeiji and taken her into custody without resorting to gunfire, certainly not lethal gunfire. Instead, they shot and killed a 16-year-old girl,” B’Tselem said.

“The continued policy of fatally shooting Palestinians who do not pose a mortal danger illustrates the manifest discrepancy between the recognized and accepted principle that prohibits such use of gunfire, and a reality in which shoot-to-kill incidents are a frequent occurrence and are encouraged by senior officials and wide public support,” B’Tselem added.

Hjeiji is one of 22 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the start of 2017, seven of whom were minors. Seven Israelis have also been killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
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