West Bank: Palestinian boy killed by Israeli forces laid to rest in Bethlehem
Zaid Mohammed Ghonaim, 15, was fatally shot in his neck and back in the town of al-Khader on Friday evening, the Palestinian health ministry said, making him the 15th teenager to be killed by Israeli fire this year.
Confrontations had erupted between al-Khader residents and Israeli forces who stormed the town, south of Bethlehem, to "secure an intersection near the illegal settlement of Efrat," according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Eyewitnesses said Ghonaim was hiding in a parking garage when Israeli soldiers shot him, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The Israeli army said it responded with live fire and hit one "suspect" after a number of people allegedly "hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers".
The army did not provide clarification on whether Ghonaim had participated in the confrontations.
Ghonaim's friends and family buried him in the Martyrs Cemetery in his hometown of al-Khader on Saturday morning, accompanied by hundreds of people who joined the funeral procession.
The governor of Bethlehem, Kamel Hameed, said his killing was "another crime committed against childhood".
"He was unarmed and did not pose a threat to them," Hameed said, according to Wafa.
'Alarming' settler violence
Separate confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and settlers were reported elsewhere in the West Bank on Friday.
Israeli forces wounded at least 50 people in protests near Nablus, which has witnessed tense confrontations in the past week amid a wave of settler violence against Palestinians in several towns near the northern West Bank city.
On Wednesday, 16-year-old Gaith Yamin was killed by Israeli soldiers as they secured the arrival of settlers at Joseph's Tomb, a site revered by Muslims and Jews and a regular flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis.
According to United Nations experts, settler violence across the West Bank has seen an "alarming" rise since 2021.
Some 370 settler attacks that led to damage to property were recorded in 2021 and a further 126 assaults caused casualties.
Violence carried out by settlers has included the use of live ammunition, physical assaults, arson attacks, and uprooting of olive trees.
So far this year, more than 541 injuries to Palestinians caused by settlers have been documented, of which 217 were in Nablus alone.
Around 16 of those injuries were caused by live ammunition. At least one Palestinian was killed by an Israeli settler this year.
There are more than 600,000 settlers who live in over 200 settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in breach of international law.