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Clashes after funeral for slain Palestinian teen leave 8 injured by Israeli fire

March 18, 2017 2:52 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2017 5:56 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces following a funeral procession held Saturday for 16-year-old Murad Yousif Abu Ghazi in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, which was attended by hundreds of mourners and came a day after the boy was shot dead by Israeli forces.

Sources from the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service told Ma'an that eight young men were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes with Israeli troops that erupted after the funeral.

All eight received treatment on the scene, and dozens of others -- including women, children, and elderly people -- were treated for severe tear gas inhalation.
(Photo: Mamoon Wazwaz)

Local sources said an Israeli border guard sustained minor wounds after he was hit with a stone.

The clashes came after a motorcade of vehicles brought the body of Abu Ghazi from al-Ahli hospital in Hebron to his home in al-Arrub camp. After family members said their goodbyes, the teen’s body was carried to the camp's mosque for the funeral prayer, and then to the cemetery for burial.

Mourners chanted slogans hailing Palestinian ‘martyrs’ and denouncing the Israeli occupation.

Clashes broke out immediately after Abu Ghazi was laid to rest, with young Palestinian men hurling stones at an Israeli military post near the camp, while Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters and at the camp's houses.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of the clashes.

Abu Ghazi succumbed to a critical gunshot wound in his chest on Friday night around 9:30 p.m, while 17-year-old Saif Salim Rushdi, also a resident of al-Arrub, underwent surgery for a bullet wound in the chest. Doctors told Ma’an on Saturday that Rushdi remained in critical condition, as his left lung was severely damaged and he suffered from fractures in his rib cage.

An Israeli army spokesperson claimed at the time 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 acknowledge the death of Abu Ghazi or the injury of Rushdi, and said investigations were still underway.

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.

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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