IDF shoots, kills Palestinian teen near Bethlehem after pursuing firebombers

Military says rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at troops at nearby settlement; Palestinians identify deceased as Zaid Ghnaim, 15, say he was not involved in attack on soldiers

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers stand guard at the entrance to the Efrat settlement in the central West Bank on March 29, 2022. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers stand guard at the entrance to the Efrat settlement in the central West Bank on March 29, 2022. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

A 15-year-old Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Al-Khader south of Bethlehem on Friday night, after Palestinians allegedly hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at troops in the area.

Palestinian health officials identified the deceased as Zaid Mohammad Saeed Ghnaim, adding that he was shot in the throat and the back.

The Israeli army said soldiers pursued “suspects who hurled stones and Molotov cocktails” at them near the settlement of Efrat. Troops chased the suspects to Al-Khader, the army said.

According to the army, after soldiers entered the town, Palestinians again hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at them. An Israeli military spokesperson said it could not be confirmed whether it was the same band as before.

“In response, the [Israeli] force opened fire. A hit was detected. The force provided the wounded with first aid at the spot, after which he was evacuated by the Red Crescent,” the Israeli army said.

The army did not immediately respond to a query as to whether Ghnaim was a member of the firebomb-throwing gang or a bystander.

Ahmad Salah, a local activist, said Israeli soldiers had shot Ghnaim during a raid well inside the town. Salah claimed that “the soldiers approached [Ghnaim], he did nothing to them.”

At least two other Palestinians from Al-Khader have been killed by Israeli forces in recent months. According to the army, both sought to firebomb Israeli cars passing on nearby Route 60, the West Bank’s main artery.

Muhammad Shahada, 14, was killed by Israeli troops after he allegedly hurled Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars in late February. Israeli medics provided him with first aid in an attempt to save his life, but he ultimately died of his wounds, according to the Israeli military.

As tensions soared between Israel and the Palestinians in April, Mohammad Ali Ghneim, 21, was also shot and killed by soldiers. According to the army, Ghneim also sought to throw Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars on the nearby thoroughfare.

Israel and the Palestinians have been living through one of the deadliest periods — short of all-out war — in recent memory. A bloody wave of terror attacks has claimed 19 lives in Israeli cities since March 22.

In an attempt to restore order, Israeli forces ramped up raids across the West Bank, sparking clashes as well as gunfights with armed Palestinians. The violence has left over 30 Palestinians dead in the same period.

Some of the Palestinians were killed while attempting to commit violent acts of terror, others while participating in violent clashes with Israeli troops. Still others seem to have been uninvolved civilians — such as Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The veteran correspondent was killed earlier this month under disputed circumstances in Jenin during a gun battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen.

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