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Israeli forces fatally shoot Palestinian child during village protest

Ali Abu Aalya succumbs to wounds after being shot in stomach by Israeli forces near Ramallah in occupied West Bank
Ali Abu Aalya was killed by Israeli forces on 4 December in his hometown of al-Mughayir (Supplied)

Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian child near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday evening, the local health ministry said. 

The boy has been identified as Ali Abu Aalya, and reported to be between 13 and 15 years old. The teen was killed during clashes that broke out between Palestinian residents and Israeli soldiers in his village of al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, the ministry said. 

The Palestinian Red Cross told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli forces shot Abu Aalya in the stomach. He was then rushed to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

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Clashes broke out in the village on Friday after Israeli forces responded to a protest held by local residents against a new settlement outpost in the area. Haaretz reported that the demonstration had taken place "far from the outpost". 

Unicef, the UN agency concerned with children's well being, denounced the killing of Abu Aalya on Friday. "Unicef urges Israeli authorities to fully respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of all children and refrain from using violence against children, in accordance with international law," Ted Chaiban, the agency's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

Palestinian communities often use Friday after midday prayers as a time to protest against the Israeli policies of land confiscation, road blockades, and settlement expansion among other issues. 

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned Israel's response to such protests, which frequently result in the loss of life, accusing the army of carrying out a "shoot-to-kill" policy that encourages "extrajudicial killings". 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, protests have been less frequent in the occupied West Bank this year. Still, at least 28 Palestinians, including seven children, have been killed in hostilities, mostly by Israeli gunfire, since the start of 2020, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

Meanwhile, with the encouragement of US President Donald Trump's administration, the Israeli government has ramped up settlement expansion. While plans of total annexation of the occupied West Bank have been put on hold after normalisation deals were reached with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed the delay is temporary. 

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