Israeli army fatally shot a Palestinian teenager during a raid in West Bank

The Israeli army fatally shot a 15-year-old Palestinian girl during a raid in the occupied West Bank in the town of Beitunia near Ramallah, said the Palestinian health ministry on Monday. On the other hand, the Israeli military said that the soldiers had opened fire on a vehicle that was speeding toward them after they had signalled them to stop. 

The victim later identified as Fulla Rasmi Abdelazeez Al-Masalmeh was due to turn 16 on her birthday tomorrow and was killed after “occupation soldiers fired at her during a raid”, the statement by the Palestinian health ministry added. The incident occurred in the city of Beitunia where the military said its soldiers were on an arrest raid. 

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A report by Al Jazeera citing the news agency Wafa said that another Palestinian, 26-year-old Anas Hassouneh was injured after the shooting. The two victims were in the vehicle with Hassouneh driving and were reportedly unaware of the presence of the Israeli forces who had stationed themselves at several points. 

In a statement about the incident, the Israeli army said that their troops said that they saw a “suspicious vehicle accelerating towards them during an operation by security forces”. It added that the troops had signalled for the vehicle to stop, but it accelerated towards them, after which they opened fire. 

“These youths were in the car… The army was suspicious of the car, and then shot at the car,” said the head of the city’s municipality, Diaa Kurt to Al Jazeera. He added, that the Israeli army then handed over the girl’s body to Palestinian medics after which she was taken to the local hospital. Kurt also noted that three Palestinian men were detained from Beitunia, late Sunday. Furthermore, the city official said that the Israeli forces arrested the driver of the car, who surrendered, reported the Associated Press.

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The AP report citing a 35-year-old witness, Bakr Armoush, said that he saw at least 20 Israeli soldiers who were searching parked cars near his building when the victims’ car approached at a distance. He added, suddenly without any apparent warning, soldiers hiding behind the cars started firing after which the male driver got out with his hands over his head and the girl seemed slumped over in the passenger seat. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry had also initially misidentified the victim after which they corrected that error and the girl’s mother, brother and sister later identified her at the morgue on Monday evening. The attack drew condemnation from the Palestinian foreign minister which called for “international measures” and force the “occupying state to stop its aggression against our people”.

Meanwhile, the UN special envoy for the East Peace Process took to Twitter and said that he is “appalled by the tragic killing” and called for an “an immediate and thorough investigation into her death.”

The Israeli army has reportedly killed over 130 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip so far, this year, which according to the United Nations, is the highest death toll in the last 16 years. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office has previously noted that the use of firearms against Palestinians “on mere suspicion or as a precautionary measure, in violation of international standards”.

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On the other hand, these intensified raids have prompted a series of Palestinian shooting attacks which led to the death of at least four Israelis in recent weeks. These raids, according to Israel are aimed at dismantling militant networks and cracking down on armed groups operating in the Palestinian territory. 

In a separate incident, the Israeli police said that one of their soldiers shot a man in the city of Raanana, north of Tel Aviv. The police said the soldier opened fire after feeling unsafe as a citizen approached in a “suspicious manner” at a bus station and they suspected was about to carry out an attack. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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