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Israel-Palestine: Grief and anger after teenager shot and killed by Israeli forces

General strike and day of mourning held in Umm al-Fahm after Israeli police shot and killed 17-year-old Mohammad Kiwan
Mourners carry the coffin of Mohammad Kiwan, a 17-year-old Palestinian who succumbed to his wounds after being shot during confrontations with Israeli troops last week (AFP)

Palestinian citizens of Israel staged a general strike and day of mourning in the town of Umm al-Fahm on Thursday, after 17-year-old Mohammad Mahmoud Kiwan died just over a week after being shot by Israeli police while sitting in a car with his friends.

According to the family, Kiwan was shot by Israeli police on 12 May at the Mei Ami junction in the Israeli town of Mei Ami, some two kilometres from Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel. 

Both Mei Ami and Umm al-Fahm are close to Road 65, a vital highway that connects the northeast of Israel to the Mediterranean coast. It was blocked several times over the past week amid confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli far-right and settler groups.

On Wednesday, Palestinian officials demanded an investigation into his death, while the family accused Israeli police of "assassinating" the teenager.

In a statement, the family said: "Our son, the martyr Mohammad, has joined the convoy of martyrs whose pure blood was shed for the sake of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, and for the wounds of our people and our brothers in Gaza, [a place] of honour and steadfastness."

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His father told local news website Arab48 that the family was about to finish preparations for Kiwan's new house.

"We wished that he would continue his life, marry and form a family... he was a beloved, active person, who loved school and education, and he excelled in his studies."

Activists in Umm al-Fahm had called for schools, commercial shops and public and private institutions to adhere to the strike.

Kiwan was a student at al-Tsamoh secondary school at Umm al-Fahm. He is the second Palestinian citizen of Israel to be killed since May.

Musa Hassouneh was killed last week in the mixed city of Ramla during a protest against Israel’s imminent forced eviction of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, and against the storming of al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli forces during Ramadan.

The Arab Follow-Up Committee, which coordinates between political parties of Palestinians inside Israel, said that the killing of Kiwan and Hassouneh is "part of the killing policies practised by the Israeli occupation in all of our daily Palestinian presence".

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 20 percent of the country's population. They are currently represented in the Israeli Knesset by two parties, the Arab Joint List and Raam, which hold 6 and 4 parliament's seats, respectively.

Despite this, Israel has never involved the parties in any government since its establishment in 1948.