The US on Thursday called for a probe into an incident in which a seemingly unarmed Palestinian was shot in the back as he retreated from Israeli forces, an incident captured on video.
“We are alarmed by reports of an Israeli shooting an unarmed Palestinian civilian from behind as the latter was walking away from an Israeli position,” a US State Department spokesperson said. “The United States urges a rapid completion of an objective, thorough investigation into the incident, which we understand is ongoing, and calls for full accountability in this case.”
In a graphic video that was circulated on Monday by Palestinian media outlets, a man was seen in the northern West Bank town of Beita being shot, possibly in the head, while walking away from members of Yamas — the Border Police’s elite undercover counterterrorism unit — and toward another Palestinian wounded by Israeli forces.
Palestinian media reports claimed that the man, named as Ameed al-Jaghoub, had died of his wounds, but the Palestinian Authority health ministry said his condition was critical.
Haaretz reported Tuesday that the Police Internal Investigations Department had opened up an initial investigation into the matter.
A Border Police spokesman told The Times of Israel that while officers were operating in Beita to detain a wanted Palestinian man, a “violent riot developed.”
During the riot, which “greatly endangered the lives of the troops,” Palestinians hurled cinderblocks and stones at the Yamas officers, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said officers used various riot dispersal means against the Palestinians, and resorted to using live fire, including with Ruger sniper rifles, as the intensity of riots increased.
Warning: Graphic footage.
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The .22-caliber round from a Ruger rifle is considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the military. Human rights groups have condemned the use of the rifle for riot control, however, as it can still kill. Troops typically fire the Ruger rifle at the lower body of rioters, rather than at the head, which can be deadly.
“The circumstances of the incident are under investigation,” the spokesman said regarding the video.
Another five Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, the PA health ministry said.
The incident came days after the Military Police’s Investigatory Unit launched a probe on Friday into footage showing an Israeli soldier shooting an unarmed Palestinian man near the West Bank city of Qalqilya.
Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in revenge attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.
A string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank this year have left 29 people dead and several others seriously wounded, including the killing of an Israeli woman near Hebron on Monday, and an Israeli father and son in Huwara on Saturday.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 173 West Bank Palestinians have also been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including by armed Israeli settlers.