Israeli troops accused of shooting handcuffed Palestinian

Osama Hajjahjeh, 16, said he was trying to run from soldiers when he was shot. (AP)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Israeli troops accused of shooting handcuffed Palestinian

BEIT JALA, West Bank: A hospitalized Palestinian teen said Monday he was shot in his thighs by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed and blindfolded — the latest in what a leading rights group portrayed as a series of unjustified shootings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers.
The military said it was investigating last week’s incident, which it said took place as Palestinian youths were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
Osama Hajjahjeh, 16, said he was trying to run from soldiers when he was shot Thursday. He said the incident began after a funeral for a school teacher in his village of Tekoa, who had been hit by a car driven by an Israeli while walking at a busy intersection.
Hajjahjeh said school was let out early for students to attend the funeral. After the burial, he said he was tackled by a soldier who jumped out of an olive grove and forced him to the ground. He said his hands were cuffed and his eyes covered with a cloth blindfold.
After the arrest, he said he could hear Palestinian youths shouting at the soldiers, while soldiers yelled back in Arabic and Hebrew.
“I got confused” and stood up, he said. “Immediately, I was shot in my right leg. Then I tried to run, and I was shot in my left leg and fell on the ground,” he said, speaking from his hospital bed in the West Bank town of Beit Jala south of Jerusalem. Doctors said he is in stable condition.
A photo captured by a local photographer shows soldiers appearing to pursue a fleeing Hajjahjeh with his eyes covered and hands tied behind his back.
The shooting set off a chaotic scene. Soldiers and Palestinians shouted at each other as the teen lay on the ground. One soldier took off the teen’s belt and used it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
Amateur video shows a masked soldier screaming and pointing a pistol at a group of anguished Palestinians as the teen lies on the ground. Later, a soldier scuffles with residents as another soldier fires into the air. A soldier and two Palestinian men then carry away the teen to medical care.
In a statement, the military said the teen had been arrested after participating in “massive stone throwing” at Israeli forces.
“The detainee was held at a nearby spot and began running away from the force. The soldiers chased him, during which they fired toward his lower abdomen,” it said.
The statement did not say anything about him being blindfolded or cuffed, but said the military offered medical treatment after the shooting and was investigating the event.
Hajjahjeh’s father, Ali, said he was thankful a soldier gave his son medical care. But he said his son never should have been shot to begin with.
“Only a sick person would shoot a blindfolded boy,” he said.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said the incident was the latest in a series of what it called unjustified shootings on Palestinian teens and young men. It says four Palestinians in their late teens or early twenties have been killed in the West Bank since early March.
The army has challenged the Palestinian witness accounts, but also frequently announces investigations into disputed cases.
B’Tselem has long criticized military investigations, saying they rarely result in punishments and alleging they’re used to whitewash abuses by troops.
“Like the previous four cases we investigated, this is an example of Israel’s reckless use of lethal fire, and the fact that the human lives of Palestinians count very little in the eyes of the army,” said Roy Yellin, a spokesman for the group.


Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US: Rouhani

Updated 3 min 48 sec ago
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Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US: Rouhani

  • ‘Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US’

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said Iran “never seeks war” with the US, state media reported Wednesday amid a spike in tensions between the two countries.

“Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US,” the president said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

Rouhani was speaking by phone to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as Tehran and Washington engaged in an escalating war of words following Iran shooting down a US drone last week.

“We have always been committed to regional peace and stability and will make efforts in this respect,” the Iranian president told Macron.

US President Donald Trump said he pulled back from retaliatory strikes on Iran at the last minute, rejecting Tehran’s claim that the aircraft was in its airspace.

But pressure mounted this week with Trump announcing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and top officials.

The new measures are the latest against Tehran since Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.

Rouhani blamed the United States for regional tensions Wednesday and said if Washington had stuck to the deal “we would have witnessed positive developments in the region.”

Iran announced in May it would suspend two of its pledges under the 2015 deal, giving the agreement’s remaining supporters two months to help it circumvent US sanctions.

On Tuesday Tehran’s top security official said Iran would “forcefully” reduce further commitments from July 7.