Israeli soldiers kill 14-year-old Palestinian in occupied West Bank
The father of a 14-year-old Palestinian boy fatally shot by Israeli forces on Tuesday has told Middle East Eye that Israeli soldiers stopped him seeing his son before he died.
Teenager Mohammed Shehadeh, whom the Israeli military accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at passing cars, was shot by soldiers in the occupied West Bank town of al-Khader, near Bethlehem.
Mohammed's father, Rizk Shehadeh, 48, said his son had been with friends when the shooting began. Mohammed was shot in the chest, Shehadeh said.
When he arrived at the scene of his son's shooting, he was confronted by Israeli soldiers. "I told them, 'This is my son and I want to see him.' The soldier told me, 'If you don't go, I will shoot you.' Then I learned that my son was dead," Shehadeh told MEE.
'The shooting was intended to kill'
Ahmed Salah, a local activist in al-Khader, said Mohammed, who was his cousin, had been ambushed by the army and that the soldier who fired at him had “shot him directly - the shooting was intended to kill”.
The Israeli army said its forces "identified three suspects who arrived at a location where Molotov cocktails were repeatedly thrown at Israeli vehicles recently", referring to motorists on Route 60.
"The troops fired at one of the suspects while he threw a Molotov cocktail, and hit him,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
Israel's separation barrier runs through al-Khader, segregating it from Route 60. Salah, former town mayor Adnan Sbeih and a number of others said that 14-year-old Mohammed was shot on the al-Khader side of the wall.
"The distance between the wall and the place where Mohammed was killed is 300 metres," Salah told MEE. "This means that Mohammed did not pose any significant danger to the army or the settlers, even if we assume that Mohammed wants to throw stones from that distance. No harm can happen, because the distance is far," he said.
"Mohammed did not pose a danger to anyone," Salah added. "I don’t know how a 14-year-old child would be dangerous to a heavily armed soldier. The army seeks to kill anyone present in that area."
Israel's military said soldiers gave Mohammed medical aid at the scene, where he was later pronounced dead. However, Salah and Palestinian news outlets said that a medical crew from the Red Crescent was prevented from reaching him.
The Palestinian news outlet Wafa reported that confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians in al-Khader continued late on Tuesday.
The killing of Mohammed Shehadeh comes a week after Israeli forces shot and killed several Palestinians.
Nihad al-Barghouti, 20, died of bullet wounds around the pelvis after being shot by Israeli soldiers on 15 February at the entrance to the village of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah.
Several days earlier, Mohammad Akram Abu Salah, 17, was shot in the head by Israeli troops as they stormed Silat al-Harithiya village late on Sunday to demolish the home of a man accused of killing an Israeli settler.
The rights group Defence for Children International - Palestine (DCI) said earlier on Tuesday that Israel is continuing to withhold the bodies of nine Palestinian children its forces have killed. All nine were under 18 at the time of their deaths, which occurred between 2016 and December 2021, with the youngest being two 15-year-olds: Yousef Mohammad Odeh from Jenin, and Mohammad Nidal Musa from Nablus.
DCI said in December that 2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, as Israeli forces killed 76 Palestinians under 18, 15 of them in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 61 in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Additional reporting by Akram al-Waara in Bethlehem