Israeli forces kill two Palestinian teens in occupied West Bank

One of the teens, Muhammad Fouad Atta al-Bayed, died of a gunshot wound to the head after demonstrations in Umm Safa, Palestinian health ministry says.

Palestinian men carry a person during clashes with Israeli troops after Israeli settlers attack Umm Safa village near Ramallah
Last month, Israeli settlers repeatedly attacked Umm Safa [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Israeli forces have killed two teenage Palestinian boys in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, on Friday – the latest bloodshed amid continued violence in the region.

One teenager, identified by the Palestinian health ministry as 17-year-old Muhammad Fouad Atta al-Bayed, was shot in the head by Israeli forces during unrest in the village of Umm Safa, which neighbours Ramallah.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the teenager from the Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah, was taken to the Istishari Arab Hospital before dying of his wounds.

It added that Israeli forces had fired live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades during confrontations with residents.

The Israeli army said that a member of the paramilitary border police unit opened fire after masked suspects threw stones and rocks at Israeli forces, according to The Associated Press.

It confirmed that a person was hit by gunfire but gave no further details. It said that soldiers opened fire in response to stone-throwing and explosives, hitting one suspect who allegedly had thrown a bomb.

There were no immediate details from Palestinian officials.

A second shooting took place later on Friday in the occupied West Bank’s Nablus governorate, leaving one person dead and another seriously injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

There are two disputed versions of events that took place, said Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli military confirmed it had opened fire upon a vehicle.

“A short while ago, a car-ramming attempt occurred in the town of Sebastia,” the armed forces wrote on Twitter.

“Forces responded with live fire towards the vehicle. The driver was neutralised, and the other suspect was injured and apprehended.”

The Wafa news agency identified the dead victim as 18-year-old Fawzi Hani Makhalfeh. It also released a video of a windshield riddled with bullet holes.

However, the victim’s family said that the pair did not target soldiers and were instead ambushed while driving, Khan said.

Shortly before the fatal shooting, Makhalfeh had just passed his high school exams and was in good spirits, local media also reported.

The killing of al-Bayed and Makhalfeh came as part of a year-long period of violence, marked by repeated Israeli raids on the occupied West Bank, which has shown no signs of abating.

The shootings bring the number of Palestinians killed this year in the occupied Palestinian territories, which includes East Jerusalem and Gaza, to 202, with  165 of those in the occupied West Bank, said Khan.

31 of those killed are under the age of 18, she added.

“So the numbers really tell the story of a very grim reality on the ground here,”  said Khan.

Raids have only grown deadlier under Israel’s far-right government, which came into power at the start of the year and includes leading figures from Israel’s settler movement, which seeks to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank at the expense of Palestinians.

Earlier this month in Umm Safa, Palestinian health officials said 24-year-old Abdel-Jawad Hamdan Saleh was also fatally shot in the chest by Israeli forces during a demonstration.

Last month, several dozen settlers rampaged through the West Bank village, setting fire to vehicles and homes in days of consecutive vigilante attacks following the deadly shooting of four Israeli settlers at a petrol station between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus.

The shooting came a day after six Palestinians were killed in the Jenin refugee camp during a large-scale Israeli military incursion.

The torching of homes and properties in Umm Safa by illegal settlers drew rare condemnation from the Israeli army’s international media spokesman, who condemned the rioting as “acts of terror”, The Times of Israel reported.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the violence “crosses all lines”.

“Torching homes and cars of innocents is inhumane and definitely not Jewish. Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu needs to condemn this disgrace and deal with it severely. This is a moral disgrace and security threat,” Lapid tweeted.

The United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk warned that “the violence, along with the inflammatory rhetoric, serve only to drive Israelis and Palestinians deeper into an abyss”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies