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Palestinian girl shot and detained for not stopping at checkpoint to be released

Sept. 22, 2016 11:49 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 23, 2016 7:48 P.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military court in Salem has decided to release a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot and injured by an Israeli border guard after she continued walking when ordered to stop at a crossing in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

The court decided not to extend the detention of Baraa Ramadan Eweisa, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Thursday, after the court determined the teenage girl was not attempting to carry out a stabbing attack when she was shot, nor had she been in possession of a knife.

PPS lawyer Saleh Ayyoub said that Baraa was still being treated at Israel's Meir Hospital, and added that a PPS lawyer would be visiting her on Thursday to check on her health condition.

Baraa was shot in the leg by an Israeli guard near the Eliyahu checkpoint in eastern Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday morning, after she was ordered to stop by border guards and continued walking.

The incident has been reported by Israeli media as an "attempted stabbing attack" and a "thwarted terror attack," though an Israeli Defense Ministry statement released shortly after said that Israeli forces found no traces of explosives or weapons after searching the teenager’s bag.

The Defense Ministry statement said that after the girl approached the military checkpoint, Israeli authorities ordered her to stop, firing warning shots into the air. When she reached toward her shirt, a border guard shot her in the leg.

After being shot and lightly to moderately injured, she was subsequently detained by Israeli forces. During her initial detention and questioning, she reportedly told interrogators: "I came here to die," according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.

The incident came amid a surge in violence in the occupied Palestinian territory that has seen seven Palestinians -- including two minors -- and one Jordanian shot dead in less than a week, and three Palestinians seriously injured by Israeli forces.

All but one were shot while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks on uniformed Israeli soldiers or police, while the other was fatally shot during a military raid as Israeli soldiers attempted to detain the man.

During the same period, at least two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, have been detained for alleged knife possession at Israeli military checkpoints.

The surge in violence came after a period of relative calm since a wave of unrest spread across the Palestinian territory nearly a year ago, which has seen 230 Palestinians killed by Israelis and 32 Israelis killed by Palestinians.

The violence has been largely characterized by small-scale attacks committed by Palestinians against uniformed Israeli soldiers or police, and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases.

UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israeli forces committing the killings.

After the pattern apparent extrajudicial executions emerged, Israeli media reported claims that a number of the Palestinians were killed or injured after they intentionally "provoked" Israeli forces in order to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Hebron -- the southern West Bank city where six of this week's nine shootings have occurred and which has seen the bulk of violence throughout the past year -- reported Tuesday that Palestinian security forces have recently detained a number Palestinians suspected of being hired by Israel to “escalate violence.”

“Our reports indicate that Israeli forces provoke Palestinian children and incite them to carry knifes. Israeli soldiers keep asking Palestinian children at checkpoints, ‘Where are your knifes? Why aren’t you carrying knifes?’,” Kamel Hameid said in the press conference.

Hameid told reporters that Israeli security forces, with the support of the Israeli government, have been carrying out an “ethnic cleansing” campaign against unarmed Palestinian citizens, adding that “Israel’s escalation of violence and executions is exacerbating the situation in Hebron to the brink of disaster.”
A report released recently by BADIL, a Palestinian NGO, had also warned of an increasing trend of Israeli forces shooting and injuring Palestinian youth -- particularly in the knees and legs -- during the near-nightly detention raids carried across the occupied West Bank.

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) has also extensively documented the abuse of Palestinians by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions.
According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel as of August, 340 were minors, and 56 were female.
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