Israeli forces have killed a 14-year-old Palestinian teen in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry, marking the latest death amid a surge of violence in the region.
The shooting, which was announced early on Thursday, occurred in the city of Qalqiliya, as Israeli forces reportedly stormed a local neighbourhood overnight, resulting in clashes. Residents told the Reuters news agency that neighbourhood youth threw rocks at the soldiers, who responded with gunfire.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
The Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the victim as teenager Faris Abu Samra. Local news reports indicated he had been shot in the head.
The bloodshed happened only hours after another Palestinian man was killed in a West Bank raid further south, in the Al-Ain refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus.
Israeli troops said they entered the camp to arrest a “suspected militant”, but as soldiers encircled a house in the refugee camp, a gunfight ensued, resulting in Mohammed Abd al-Hakim Nada being shot in the chest. He later died from his injuries.
Officials have warned that 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the United Nations began keeping track of fatalities in 2005.
In a recent Protection of Civilians report, the UN tallied 112 Palestinians killed in the West Bank between January and May 29 – more than double the number of deaths catalogued over the same period in 2022.
The report also noted that Israeli forces had also injured an estimated 409 Palestinians, including 41 children.
Previously, 2022 had been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with 150 people killed, of which 33 were minors. It was the sixth consecutive annual increase in the West Bank death toll and coincided with the start of near-daily raids on the area.
Armed Palestinian groups have responded with shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in recent months, contributing to the violence.
The rising number of fatalities last year prompted UN experts to condemn the treatment of Palestinians, including attacks on their homes and destruction of their property.
“We remind Israel that, pending the dismantlement of its unlawful occupation, Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory must be treated as protected persons, not enemies or terrorists,” the UN experts said in a press release.
Qalqiliya, where the teen was shot on Thursday, is located in the northwest part of the West Bank and surrounded by Israel’s separation wall, a structure the UN deems illegal.
The city has previously been the site of clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians. In October, for instance, another 14-year-old was shot dead near the separation barrier when Israeli forces responded to a Molotov cocktail with live fire.