Clashes erupt as Palestinians hold funeral for toddler mistakenly shot by IDF

Several Palestinians injured near West Bank’s Nabi Saleh following burial of Mohammed Tamimi, 2, who died Monday after succumbing to wounds from Thursday shootout

Mourners carry the body of 2.5-year-old Mohammed Haitham al-Tamimi during his funeral in the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, June 6, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Mourners carry the body of 2.5-year-old Mohammed Haitham al-Tamimi during his funeral in the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, June 6, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered Tuesday for the funeral of a 2-year-old boy who died this week after he was mistakenly shot by Israeli troops during a shootout in the West Bank.

The aftermath of the funeral saw clashes with Israeli soldiers in which several Palestinians were reportedly injured.

On Thursday, Mohammed Tamimi and his father were hit by gunshots as Israeli soldiers returned fire at Palestinian gunmen who had shot at the settlement of Neve Tzuf.

The father, Haitham Tamimi, was taken by Palestinian medics to a hospital in Ramallah, and the toddler was rushed to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan by a military helicopter in critical condition.

The boy succumbed to his wounds at Sheba on Monday, according to the hospital.

Shortly after the funeral Tuesday, several Palestinians were wounded during clashes with the Israeli military near the nearby village of Nabi Saleh.

The mother (C) of Mohammed Haitham al-Tamimi, a 2.5-year-old Palestinian boy accidentally shot by the IDF a week earlier, carries his body during the funeral in the village of Nabi Saleh, June 6, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces told The Times of Israel that “a violent riot developed near Nabi Saleh,” prompting troops to use riot dispersal means and live fire in some cases.

“During the riot, several suspects hurled stones at the forces who responded with riot dispersal means,” the spokesperson said, adding that several suspects were hit.

The spokesperson said that troops used live fire against one Palestinian who allegedly hurled cinderblocks at troops.

The IDF said the clashes were dispersed and no soldiers were hurt.

According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, one person was hit by live fire in the foot, another was hit with a rubber-tipped bullet, and a number of others were treated by medics for tear gas inhalation.

Video from the town showed Israeli troops firing rubber-tipped bullets and throwing stun grenades as rocks were thrown at them.

Tamimi’s mother, Marwa, 32, told AFP during the funeral that soldiers had fired on her husband while he was in the car with their son. She said he had gone out to move his car because he feared it would be damaged by nearby Israeli soldiers.

“My husband started the car and my son was next to him, and the shots were fired at him when he turned on the car’s lights,” she said. “They [Israeli soldiers] fired at them for a while, and they could not get out of the car… so I hid inside [the house].”

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement after the shooting that the pair was likely hit by mistake, adding that it “regrets harm to [noncombatants] and works to prevent such incidents.”

Mohammed Tamimi. (Social media: Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In response to a query by The Times of Israel on Monday, the IDF said: “The incident is being investigated in depth. At the end of the inquiry and taking into account its findings, a decision will be made regarding the opening of a probe.”

The army’s preliminary investigation has not yet been completed. An inquiry into troops’ conduct has not yet been submitted to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Marwa Tamimi said she had no faith in the Israeli army’s investigation.

“I want an international trial. Enough is enough. Every time we hear of a child who is martyred, a whole family is martyred,” she said.

Relatives of Mohammed Haitham Tamimi, a 2.5-year-old Palestinian boy accidentally shot by the IDF a few days earlier, attend his funeral in the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank on June 6, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh on Monday night expressed anger in a tweet.

“He [Tamimi] died by the bullets of Israeli occupation soldiers !!! What will the occupation authorities say about him? Are they going to call him a terrorist?? Is he endangering the lives of their soldiers?”

The UN special envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland and the European Union’s delegation to the Palestinians both called for accountability following the death.

Israel said following the incident that soldiers at an army post in the central West Bank had been returning fire after gunmen had shot at the adjacent settlement of Neve Tzuf (also known as Halamish).

Moments after the exchange, a Palestinian man and his child appeared at the entrance to Neve Tzuf with serious injuries to seek medical help.

It appeared that “as a result of the gunfire by the [Israeli] forces, two Palestinians were hurt,” the military said in a statement. A probe into the incident was underway, it added.

The suspected gunmen have yet to be caught.

Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted troops carrying out arrest raids, military posts, Israeli settlements and civilians on roads.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been elevated for the past year, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank in the wake of a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

The string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank has killed 20 people since the start of this year and left several more seriously hurt.

At least 115 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians or were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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