Israeli rights group B’Tselem released a report and video on Tuesday revealing that 17-year-old Ahmad Hazem Ata Zidani (al-Rimawi) was shot dead in December while fleeing from the scene of clashes with Israeli forces in Ramallah-area village of Beit Rima in the central occupied West Bank.
Zidani was shot dead when clashes erupted with Israeli forces in the village during an overnight raid. A 25-year-old resident of the village was also injured with an Israeli live bullet during the same incident. Camera footage caught by a CCTV camera installed on a nearby shop shows Zidani and several other Palestinian youths “throwing stones at military jeeps outside the frame, and then running for cover around the corner of a building. Zidani is the last to arrive, and is shot just as he reaches cover.”
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an at the time that a “violent riot, large crowds of rioters began throwing rocks at Israeli forces, injuring a border police officer.”
“Forces then engaged in riot dispersal means, and the riot was dispersed,” the spokesperson said.
“We are aware of reports that a rioter was killed and another was injured, and we are looking into that,” the spokesperson added.
Local sources also highlighted at the time that Zidani’s father, Hazem Ata al-Rimawi, had been released from Israeli prison only three months ago, after completing a 15-year sentence.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response.
Last week, Israeli forces killed 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour after shooting him with live ammunition in the chest at least three times during clashes in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an at the time that “violent riots” erupted in Tuqu with “hundreds” of Palestinian youth throwing stones at Israeli border police.
“Israeli border police fired 0.22-caliber rounds towards the main instigator, resulting in his death,” the spokesperson said.
However, a video of the events taken by Palestinian journalist Hisham Abu Sharqah immediately after al-Umour was shot seemingly contradicted the Israeli army’s allegation that al-Umour was the “main instigator” in the clashes.
The video shows Israeli forces running towards the teenager’s motionless body, lying in a field of olive trees at least 100 meters away from the road where the clashes were taking place.
A young Palestinian man can be seen crouching next to al-Umour before running away, just as Israeli forces begin running from the road towards the teenager.
As the Israeli soldiers reach al-Umour’s motionless body lying face down in the ground, one soldier can be seen stumbling on al-Umour’s legs, while another one gets on top of him, forcefully turning him onto his back before more soldiers arrive. The video then shows four soldiers, each carrying one of al-Umour’s arms or legs, dragging the motionless teen to the road in an area surrounded by soldiers and armored jeeps.
Last week an investigation was opened by the Israeli army in conjunction with military police, in accordance with the Israeli Justice Ministry’s policy that a joint investigation “must be made into every instance of a Palestinian killed in the West Bank during a non-combat situation.”
Similarly, in October, 15-year-old Khalid Bahr was shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar when Israeli authorities claimed a soldier shot Khalid for throwing rocks at Israeli forces.
An Israeli army spokesperson said at the time of Bahr’s killing that soldiers were “attacked” by Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers while they were patrolling the area near Beit Ummar.
However, an internal Israeli army investigation later revealed that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not at risk when the 15-year-old boy was killed.Israeli authorities have also dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, detaining hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year. Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.”
However, Palestinians have claimed that rock throwing by teenagers represents a natural reaction to the frustrations caused by the nearly half century Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been shaped by everyday forms of violence, such as nightly military raids into Palestinian communities, arbitrary detentions, home demolitions, and frequent killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces.
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