A Palestinian rights group slammed on Wednesday the killing of a Palestinian teen by Israeli forces earlier this week, calling the case an “extrajudicial killing” and demanding that Israeli authorities open an investigation into the case.
Qusay al-Umour, 17, was killed during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu in the occupied West Bank on Monday. Video of the moments immediately following al-Umour being shot by Israeli forces has elicited a strong emotional response, as it showed Israeli soldiers roughly carrying the teenager’s limp body by his dangling arms and legs.
The group quoted Hisham Abu Shaqra, the Palestinian journalist who recorded the video, who said that al-Umour was not a threat to Israeli forces when he was fatally shot — contradicting claims by the Israeli army, which said that the Palestinian youth was the “main instigator” of the clashes that day.
“Qusay was sitting between olive trees, you know how guys are, he was just watching the soldiers…Only a few seconds after (I was) looking at him the Israeli forces shot him three or four times,” Abu Shaqra said. “The soldier who shot him was not in danger at the time of the shooting, in fact, he was secured and safe,” he added.
“First the (Israeli military) jeeps started coming closer and closer [to the youth] and then this specific soldier, the sniper with the Ruger rifle, also started coming closer. I remember he was by the third jeep, then I saw him by the second jeep and he was by the first jeep when he shot Qusay.”
The eyewitness accounts of the incident, coupled with the audiovisual evidence, have led BADIL to conclude that “whether he was throwing stones at the soldiers or not, al-Umour could not have presented a lethal threat to the well-protected Israeli border police from a distance of around 100 meters, and the use of live ammunition against him was therefore unjustified.”
The NGO denounced the “complete lack of consideration for (al-Umour)’s human dignity or his traumatic injuries.”
The group also slammed statements by Israeli police to Ma’an News Agency saying that they were “not aware” of any official investigation being carried out by Israeli authorities into al-Umour’s killing.“Israel continuously fails to investigate such actions or to prosecute members of its forces, which is the natural result of a growing culture of impunity that exists within the Israeli military,” BADIL wrote.
“This is why recent Israeli actions towards Palestinian civilians cannot be considered as isolated incidents, but rather as the violent manifestations of a policy of lawlessness in which Israeli forces operate in repeat, and direct contravention of international law absent effective accountability.”
The group, therefore, “demands that a comprehensive and independent investigation be launched into this killing as a matter of great urgency in order to identify those responsible and to hold them accountable to the full extent of international law.” Al-Umour is the fourth Palestinian to have been confirmed killed by Israeli forces in 2017.
In 2016, 112 Palestinians, 15 Israelis, and three foreign nationals were killed.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their excessive use of force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents which could have been handled without the use of deadly violence.