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Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man during funeral of 12-year-old boy

Shawkat Awad, 20, was killed in an attack on the funeral of Mohammed al-Alami, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in Beit Ummar the previous day
Israeli border police take aim at mourners during the funeral of Mohammed al-Alami on 29 July 2021 (Reuters)
By Akram al-Waara in Bethlehem, occupied West Bank

Israeli forces shot and killed a young Palestinian man during confrontations in the southern occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar on Thursday, less than 24 hours after soldiers killed a 12-year-old boy from the same town, in a case that has sparked outrage. 

Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces
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Shawkat Awad, 20, was killed by Israeli forces during confrontations that broke out in Beit Ummar after members of Israel’s border police attacked the funeral procession of Mohammed al-Alami, a 12-year-old Palestinian who was killed by soldiers who shot at his family’s car on Wednesday as they were returning home from grocery shopping. 

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As thousands of Palestinians participating in Alami’s funeral procession made their way towards Beit Ummar’s cemetery - near which is located a permanent Israeli military base - on Thursday afternoon, Israeli forces began firing sound bombs, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the crowds. 

“We were in shock at that moment. People were running in all directions, trying to get away from the tear gas but also trying to get to the cemetery so we could bury Mohammed,” Youssef Abu Maria, a resident of Beit Ummar and member of the Popular Resistance Committees in the southern West Bank, told Middle East Eye. 

The Israeli attack on the funeral procession sparked “aggressive confrontations” between the armed soldiers and Palestinian youth in Beit Ummar, Abu Maria said, adding that residents of the town threw stones at soldiers, who escalated to firing live ammunition and skunk water at the protesters. 

According to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health, at least 12 Palestinians, including Awad, were injured with live ammunition during the confrontations. Awad was shot twice - once in the head, and once in the chest. 

“The soldiers shot him at point-blank range,” Abu Maria said. “It was clear that they wanted to kill someone.”

‘The soldiers shot him at point-blank range. It was clear that they wanted to kill someone’

- Youssef Abu Maria, member of the Popular Resistance Committees

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Israeli army accused "hundreds of rioters” of violence, and said it was "familiar with the claim" that a Palestinian had been killed, and was launching an investigation into the matter. 

“We don't have any way to defend ourselves, and no one to protect us,” Abu Maria said. “We only have stones to protect ourselves against one of the strongest armies in the world. And when we throw stones against them, they call us terrorists.”

Early on Friday afternoon, Abu Maria described the situation in Beit Ummar as “depressing” and “tense” as residents prepared to set off for Awad’s funeral. 

“We were barely able to bury Mohammed and mourn his death, and then the occupation killed another one of our sons. It’s devastating,” he said.

Abu Maria told MEE dozens of Israeli troops were gathering at the entrance to the town on Friday morning, leading residents to fear that Awad’s funeral could end up like Alami’s funeral a day earlier. 

“We are scared that the soldiers will attack us again,” he said. “In Beit Ummar, we cannot bury our dead in peace because the cemetery is close to the military base.

“We just hope there will not be another martyr today."

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