The Palestinian foreign ministry has called for an international investigation into the Israeli killing of a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank town of Sebastiya, with more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israel this year.
Fawzi Hani Makhalfeh, 18, was driving with his friend Mohammed Mukheimar when Israeli forces opened fire at their car at about midnight.
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Mukheimar was injured and arrested by Israeli forces.
Ahmed Jibril, the director of ambulance and emergency services at the Red Crescent, said that Makhalfeh was hit by several bullets, one of them directly in the head, out of dozens of bullets fired by the Israeli soldiers.
In a statement, the Israeli army said that the two Palestinians tried to drive a car into soldiers, but Makhalfeh’s family said the two did not target soldiers but were ambushed while driving home, and that their car was riddled with bullets.
The mayor of Sebastia, Mohammad Azem, said he was one of the first to arrive at the scene. He described a scene of bloody carnage, with more than 50 bullet holes in the chassis.
“He was a university student,” Azem said. “It was just so brutal.”
In a statement issued on Saturday, the foreign ministry described Makhalfeh’s killing as an “execution” and called for “bringing the perpetrators and those behind them to justice”.
“The firing of a hail of bullets at the vehicle they were traveling in reflects the magnitude of hatred, aggression, racism, and premeditated killing, which makes every Palestinian vehicle suspicious to the occupation soldiers a target that can be shot at and killing whoever is inside it,” the ministry said.
It held the Israeli government fully responsible for what it described as “the heinous crime of execution” its soldiers have committed in Sebastia, calling for an international investigation into it and
Hundreds of people attended the funeral ceremony in Sebastia on Saturday. Makhalfeh’s father helped carry his son’s body which was covered with the Palestinian flag while his head was wrapped in a keffiyeh. He told local media his son was hoping to get married soon.
Makhalfeh had just passed his high school exams and was in good spirits before the shooting, according to local reports.
فوزي مخالفة، 18 عام
في تجوالٍ مسائي بصحبة رفيقه في سبسطيا؛ نابلس
اقتربت قوّاتٌ من الجّيش..40 رصاصةً اخترقت السّيارة ليرتقي قمرٌ جديدٌ في نابلس pic.twitter.com/JnP51dwylE
— نَجاة حمّودة (@najathamoday1) July 22, 2023
Translation: Fawzi Mokhalafa, 18 years old. On an evening drive with his friend in Sebastia, [Israeli] army forces approached … 40 bullets riddled the car, as a new martyr rises in Nablus.
The shooting came hours after a 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire elsewhere in the occupied West Bank.
The killings are 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.
Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan said that 202 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied territories this year alone, with 165 in the occupied West Bank.
“The numbers give a sense of the grim reality on the ground here,” she said, speaking from Ramallah.
Sebastia, northwest of Nablus, is home to an ancient archaeological site, which the Israeli military seeks to seize from the Palestinians and assume full control over it.