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Palestinian teen seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire

Palestinians have suffered a high increase in Israeli shootings, illegal arrests and imprisonment of children in the second half of 2014
Mourners gathered at the funeral of Imam Jamil Dweikat shot dead yesterday in the West Bank (MEE / Ahmad al-Bazz )

A Palestinian teenager was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank, his family said Tuesday, with the Israeli army saying he had thrown a suspected explosive device at troops. 

Family members said the incident happened as Mohammed Awwad, 17, was travelling in a car with his 19-year-old brother back to their home in Beit Ummar, between the southern cities of Bethlehem and Hebron.

As the two drove past an army outpost at the entrance to the village, soldiers opened fire, with one bullet hitting Awwad in the head and a second hitting his older brother in the thigh, the family said. 

Both were taken to hospital in Hebron. The incident comes a day after another teenager, Imam Jamil Dweikat was killed, and a further one injured by Israeli fire near the West Bank town of Nablus for throwing stones.

A spokeswoman for the army told AFP that soldiers opened fire after a suspected improvised explosive device was thrown at soldiers from a car driving past the Beit Ummar outpost.

The army said forensics experts were still working on determining the exact nature of the device, which did not explode.

Tension has run high in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since late October, when Israel briefly closed the flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound after an extremist rabbi was injured in a drive-by shooting in West Jerusalem.

Unrest mounted further when Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man in a raid on his East Jerusalem home, who had been suspected of shooting the rabbi.

On Tuesday, Israeli police detained a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem for allegedly “plotting” an attack on Israelis.

Police said on Twitter that the Palestinian had been detained at the Sha’afat checkpoint for plotting a "terrorist attack" on civilians and security forces. Earlier in the day Israeli army forces also detained 12 Palestinians in raids carried out in the occupied West Bank.

Arrests on the rise

Arrests in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been on the rise in the latter part of this year, ever since the killing of three teenage Israeli settlers near Hebron in June.

According to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office for prisoners' affairs, Israeli forces have detained more than 1,000 Palestinian children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem so far this year.

Abdel-Nasser Farawna, who heads the PLO's authority for prisoners' affairs, said that Israel had detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in the occupied territories throughout 2014.

"The vast majority of these arrests occurred in the second half of the year," Farawna said in a statement.

Some 200 of the 1,266 children detained currently remain in Israeli detention facilities, Farawna claimed.

"The targeting of children by Israel, especially in occupied Jerusalem, is rising significantly," Farawna added.

The children testified that they had been subjected to various forms of torture and deprived of their basic rights.

The PLO recently said that over 6,000 Palestinians had been detained by the Israeli army and police throughout 2014.