A Palestinian man has died after being shot by Israeli forces in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, during large clashes that broke out during the funeral of a 12-year old boy who was shot by Israeli soldiers a day earlier.
Health ministry officials said 20-year old Shawkat Awad died Thursday afternoon after being hit in the abdomen and the head in the town of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. He was taken to a hospital in Hebron in critical condition, but doctors were unable to save him.
Witnesses said thousands of people had attended the funeral procession of 12-year-old Mohammad Allamy. Violence erupted as hundreds of mourners threw rocks at Israeli forces stationed by a military post at the entrance to the town.
Videos on social media showed Israeli soldiers coming under heavy attack, as a barrage of rocks bounced off stationary army vehicles. The army, which described “extremely violent riots,” said its troops “responded with riot dispersal means, .22 caliber rounds and live fire into the air.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it dealt with 12 injuries caused by live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation.
An Israeli army’s spokesperson’s unit had no comment on reports of a fatality.
Mohammad Allamy was a passenger in a car being driven by his father when it was fired on by Israeli soldiers at the entrance to Beit Ummar on Wednesday evening. His father Muayyad said all three of his children had been in the car when the incident happened as he did a U-turn in the vehicle close to the military post.
12-year-old Mohammad was hit in the chest and taken to hospital in Hebron where he succumbed to his wounds a few hours later, Palestinian health officials said.
“My son was snatched from my heart,” Muayyad Allawy said, adding, “I died, not Mohammad who died.”
The Israeli army said it was aware of claims its soldiers had killed a child and said it was investigating the circumstances of the event. In a lengthy statement, the army said soldiers had approached the car believing they had previously observed its occupants trying to bury the body of a newborn baby in a shallow grave.
“Earlier Wednesday, IDF troops observed suspicious activity near a military checkpoint adjacent to Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. A few men exited their vehicle and were seen digging in the ground before leaving the scene. IDF troops approached the scene with caution and upon examination found two bags, one of which contained the body of a newborn infant. A short while after, IDF troops spotted a vehicle approaching the area and concluded that it was the same vehicle as before,” the statement said.
The army statement went on to say that soldiers had tried to stop the car by shouting and firing warning shots into the air. One of the soldiers then fired towards the car’s wheels in order to stop it, the statement concluded.