A UN envoy has called for an independent investigation into the disputed death of a Palestinian teenager on Sunday during an encounter with Israeli soldiers.
Israel claims Amer Abd al-Rahim Snobar, 16, died in an accident while fleeing soldiers after attacking Israelis, while Palestinians say he was beaten to death by troops.
“There are conflicting claims about the circumstances and cause of death. I urge a prompt and independent investigation into the events that led to the death of the boy,” UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said Tuesday.
According to the Israeli Defense Forces, Snobar and another young man had been throwing rocks toward an Israeli vehicle on a nearby road in the predawn hours of Sunday morning.
IDF soldiers launched a search and when they reached the outskirts of Turmus Aya, the two men began fleeing on foot. One of them, apparently Snobar, fell and sustained a head injury from which he subsequently died despite extensive efforts by the troops and IDF medics to save his life, a spokesperson for the army said.
Palestinians, however, tell an entirely different story. Snobar’s friend Sakhr Najjar, who said he was at the scene of the incident, told local media that their car had broken down on Route 60 between Ramallah and Turmus Ayya when they saw soldiers behind them. Najjar’s account does not mention any stone-throwing.
Najjar said he managed to run away into a local olive grove along with another friend of theirs. Snobar ran off Route 60 towards the Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak Hospital in Turmus Ayya, according to Najjar, before being caught by the soldiers and beaten to death.
“There were maybe five soldiers that caught him…they beat him for 10 minutes, he was screaming for maybe five minutes, then he fainted and stopped making any noise…they beat him with their rifle butts and held him up by his neck,” Najjar told a local news outlet.
Snobar was taken to a hospital in Ramallah, where doctors declared him dead, the Health Ministry said.
“Snobar arrived at the Palestine Medical Complex at 3 a.m., with clear signs of having been beaten and violence on the back of his neck,” hospital director Ahmad Bitawi said in a statement carried by the PA Health Ministry.
The IDF categorically denied reports that Snobar had been beaten.
“He was not beaten by IDF forces,” the military said in a statement.