JERUSALEM, WASHINGTON: The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed a teenager on Friday during an operation in a town near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
The ministry identified the slain teen as Zaid Ghunaim, 15. It said he was wounded by Israeli gunfire in the neck and back and that doctors failed to save his life.
The death raises to five the number of Palestinian teenagers killed during Israeli military operations in the West Bank in the past month.
Israeli-Palestinian violence has intensified in recent weeks with near-daily arrest raids in Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank and tensions around a Jerusalem holy site sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, cited witnesses as saying Ghunaim came upon the soldiers in Al-Khader and tried to run away but the troops fired at him.
Online videos purportedly of the shooting’s aftermath show bloodstains near a white car parked in a passageway.
The Israeli military, which has stepped up its operations in the West Bank in response to a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, said soldiers opened fire at Palestinians who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, endangering the troops.
“The soldiers provided an injured suspect with initial treatment at the scene” before transferring him to Palestinian medics, the military said in a statement.
Palestinian Premier Mohammad Shtayyeh said Israeli forces “deliberately” shot at Ghunaim with the intention to kill him.
On Sunday, Israeli ultranationalists plan to march through the main Muslim thoroughfare of the Old City of Jerusalem. The compound houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. The hilltop site is also the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.
Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Friday to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and stressed the importance of concluding Israel’s probes into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
“Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of concluding the investigations into the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh,” the US State Department said in a statement.
The Palestinian Authority said earlier that its investigation showed that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier in a “deliberate murder.”
Israel denied the accusation and said it was continuing its own investigations.
Abu Akleh was shot dead on May 11 while she was covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
She had been wearing a helmet and a press vest that clearly marked her as a journalist.
Israeli police officers, on May 13, charged at Palestinian mourners carrying the coffin of Abu Akleh, before thousands led her casket through Jerusalem’s Old City in an outpouring of grief and anger over her killing.
The Israeli Army had said previously that she might have been shot accidentally by one of its soldiers or by a Palestinian militant in an exchange of fire.
Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib told reporters that its enquiry showed there had been no militants close to Abu Akleh when she died.
Abu Akleh had covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for more than two decades. Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV Network, which also says Israel had killed the reporter, said it would refer the killing to the International Criminal Court.