Palestinian boy, 12, killed by apparent IDF gunfire near Hebron

IDF says troops opened fire while pursuing suspects in a vehicle that had apparently tried to bury the body of a newborn near an army post

Illustrative: Israeli security forces and a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance at the Tapuah junction near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 30, 2015. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli security forces and a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance at the Tapuah junction near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 30, 2015. (Flash90)

A 12-year-old Palestinian boy was killed Wednesday after apparently being shot by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry.

The IDF acknowledged that its troops had opened fire in the area, saying that soldiers were pursuing suspects in a vehicle who had tried to bury the body of a newborn baby near a military post.

Palestinian Authority health officials identified the boy as Mohammad al-Alaami, a resident of Beit Ummar, saying he was shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers. Al-Alaami was allegedly sitting in a car at the entrance to the town when he was shot.

The boy was evacuated by medics in critical condition to Hebron’s al-Ahli Hospital, but later died of his injuries, the Health Ministry said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, a group of soldiers near Beit Ummar saw several Palestinians digging near a military post close to the town entrance before leaving the scene in a car. When the soldiers approached the site, they found the body of a dead day-old baby in a plastic bag, the army said.

A short while later, the soldiers saw a similar car; believing it to be the Palestinians who had recently buried a baby, they sought to arrest its passengers, the military said.

“The soldiers initiated the suspect arrest procedure, which included calls [in their direction] and shooting in the air. When the vehicle did not stop, one of the soldiers fired at the wheels of the vehicle in order to stop it,” a spokesperson for the IDF said.

The Israeli army said it was looking into reports that a Palestinian child was killed during the shooting. An investigation into the incident had been opened in the army’s Military Police, a body that examines the conduct of Israeli soldiers.

Hebron has seen considerable Palestinian unrest over the past day following the apparent shooting of a member of the well-known al-Ja’abari clan in broad daylight on Tuesday, allegedly as part of a dispute with another family.

According to the Palestinian wire service Ma’an, more than 12 Palestinian businesses and four cars were torched on Tuesday night.

In a rare move, Hebron governor Jibrin Bakri ordered a nightly curfew in the city. “Stay home to preserve your safety and security in light of the current security situation,” Bakri warned residents in a statement, saying that curfew violators would be prosecuted.

On Tuesday night, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli military fire near the illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar in the northern West Bank.

According to the Israeli army, the man had approached the soldiers in a menacing manner while holding what appeared to be an iron bar.

“The Palestinian quickly advanced toward the force holding an object identified as an iron bar. After not stopping, even though the soldiers fired in the air, the force’s commander fired at the suspect,” a military spokesperson said.

No reported clashes preceded the event, nor did the army mention any in its statement. The IDF said it would look into the shooting, but did not announce a formal investigation.

View of the illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar on June 21, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Palestinian media identified the deceased as 41-year-old Shadi Amr Lutfi Salim, a municipal employee in the West Bank town of Beita, which abuts the Evyatar outpost. According to Arabic-language reports, Lutfi was standing at the entrance to the town when he was shot while at a temporary roadblock manned by Israeli soldiers.

Beita’s Palestinian residents have been protesting the establishment of the illegal outpost on a hill — known as Jabal Sbeih — overlooking the town for over two months. Palestinians allege that the hilltop’s lands have historically been cultivated by Beita residents; Israeli authorities have yet to take a stance on the claim.

Every Friday, Palestinian demonstrators have marched toward Evyatar, hurling stones at Israeli forces and setting tires ablaze. The army has responded with rubber bullets and, occasionally, live fire.

The protests have left six Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded, according to Palestinian medics. On last Friday alone, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 21 Palestinians were shot by Israeli live fire, and another 68 were injured by rubber bullets.

Emanuel Fabian contributed reporting.

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