Al-Khader (West Bank), Feb 23 (AP) A large crowd of mourners buried a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a day after he was shot dead by Israeli troops.
Mohammed Shehadeh was the second Palestinian minor to be killed by Israeli soldiers this year. In Wednesday’s funeral procession, the boy’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, was carried on a stretcher through the town of al-Khader, near Bethlehem.
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The Israeli military said soldiers had opened fire Tuesday after spotting three suspects throwing firebombs at passing traffic near al-Khader. It said troops fatally shot one of the suspects. The military justifies the use of live fire against those throwing firebombs.
The army said soldiers were in the area south of Jerusalem because there had been seven firebombing attacks over the past month.
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Family members denied Mohammed was involved in throwing firebombs, saying he was several dozen meters (yards) away from the attackers when he was shot.
Mohammed’s father, Rezeq Salah, told Palestine TV that his boy, who loved riding horses, posed no threat. “The Israeli soldier who is fully equipped with weapons could have arrested him without killing him,” Salah said.
Rights groups condemned Tuesday’s shooting as another example of what they say is the excessive use of force by the military. The groups argue that in some cases, troops could have arrested assailants instead of killing them or could have refrained from using live fire.
Israel says its security forces make every effort to avoid harming civilians.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that Mohammed was the second minor killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank this year. In 2021, Israeli forces killed 16 minors in the territory, the group said.
Soldiers are very rarely prosecuted for fatal shootings.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has established dozens of settlements where more than 500,000 settlers live.
Palestinians seek the territory — along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — as part of their future state and view the settlements as a major obstacle to resolving the conflict. (AP)
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