Israeli army to investigate West Bank shooting of Palestinian boy

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The Independent Online

The father of Udawi Tantawi, from the Askar refugee camp, said he planned to sue the army for what he called the "targeted killing" of his son, after the military authorities said an initial investigation indicated that soldiers had opened fire in breach of the rules of engagement.

The affair echoes accounts of other civilian deaths published by The Independent on Sunday last week.

The army said that the boy had been killed when soldiers in the West Bank town encountered Palestinians throwing stones and bottles at them. Thinking an armed Palestinian was approaching them, it said, they opened fire. But Mr Tantawi said a medical examination had shown several bullets were fired at his son's chest.

He told the Yedhiot Ahronot website: "You need to look at the body to understand it was a targeted shooting with the intention to kill.

"One bullet pierced his heart and exited his back. No religion in the world, no morality or law can explain what happened." He said children who had been with the boy at a local park had told him they were playing at the time of the shooting. His comments came as Hamas lost ground to the dominant Fatah party in the West Bank municipal elections.

It followed a week in which Hamas has been under sustained military and political pressure. An early breakdown of voting patterns suggested the group had secured 26 per cent of the vote compared to 54 per cent for Fatah.

The relatively strong election result for Fatah came just one week after 20 Palestinians were killed in Gaza by an explosion during a military parade, almost certainly caused by the accidental detonation of Hamas weapons.

Hamas claimed it was caused by an Israeli missile, and fired a barrage of Qassam rockets at Israeli targets. This prompted Israel to launch a series of strikes into Gaza. Scores of Hamas activists in the West Bank, including some candidates in last week's elections, were arrested.

The results are significant, because this was the first round of elections where voters were obliged to choose between two distinct party lists, rather than among individual candidates who often attract family followings.

Hamas complained that the results - showing 51 contested councils in Fatah hands, with only 13 run by Hamas - had been misleading, because in 22 councils Hamas had not stood, fearing arrests. A spokesman said: "We confirm that Hamas made progress despite the Israeli arrests of hundreds of our members."

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