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Palestinian teen shot dead, another seriously injured by Israeli forces near Hebron

March 17, 2017 9:33 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2017 7:48 P.M.)
Image shared on social media of 16-year-old Murad Yousif Abu Ghazi
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed and another Palestinian teen was moderately-to-seriously injured, after Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinian youth in al-Arrub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Friday evening.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed at around 9:30 p.m. that 16-year-old Murad Yousif Abu Ghazi succumbed to a critical gunshot wound in his chest, after he was evacuated to the intensive care unit at Hebron's Al-Ahli Hospital.

Doctors at the hospital told Ma’an that another Palestinian, identified as 17-year-old Saif Salim Rushdi, was brought to the ICU after he was also shot in the chest by Israeli forces in the camp, describing his condition as moderate to serious.

An Israeli army spokesperson claimed that the incident came after "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 spokesperson only confirmed to Ma'an that "hits were made," but did not acknowledge the death of Abu Ghazi or the injury of Rushdi, and said investigations were still underway.

Image shared on social media purporting to show the scene of the shooting.

Abu Ghazi was the 13th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2017.

His death also marked the second time this year that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor. 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, 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.

The Israeli army had claimed al-Umour was the "main instigator" among "hundreds" of Palestinian youth throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli border police.

However, Israeli NGO B'tselem released a report saying the Israeli army's version of events “has no basis in reality,” pointing out that not only were no Molotov cocktails thrown prior to the shooting of al-Umour, but that the clashes -- which involved only a dozen youths -- had significantly calmed in the moments before the teen was killed.

The group's investigation further revealed that al-Umour and his friends were at a distance of 80 to 100 meters from the security forces when he was killed, and thus could not have constituted a dancer to Israeli forces.

Palestinian legal NGO BADIL also concluded that “whether he was throwing stones at the soldiers or not, al-Umour could not have presented a lethal threat to the well-protected Israeli border police from a distance of around 100 meters, and the use of live ammunition against him was therefore unjustified.”

In dozens of 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.

Though the Israeli army and military police opened an official investigation into al-Umour’s death, the precedent set by cases such as that of 15-year-old Khalid Bahr, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October for allegedly throwing rocks at soldiers during a raid in a Hebron-area village, casts doubts on the likelihood of real accountability.

According to rights group Yesh Din, of 186 criminal investigations into suspected offenses against Palestinians opened by the Israeli army in 2015, just four resulted in indictments.
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