Palestinian teenager shot by Israeli army ‘while blindfolded and handcuffed’ in West Bank

Human rights group claim incident is latest in series of ‘unjustified’ shootings involving young men

Tom Barnes
Monday 22 April 2019 16:36
Frantic scene after Israeli troops shoot handcuffed Palestinian teenager

Israeli soldiers reportedly shot a Palestinian teenager as he attempted to avoid arrest, despite the fact he was already handcuffed and blindfolded.

Officials said an investigation had been launched into the incident, which is believed to have taken place last week after a group of youths had thrown stones at troops.

Osama Hajahjeh, 16, said he was unarmed and walking home from a funeral in the West Bank village of Tekoa when he was grabbed by soldiers.

He claimed he became confused as they bound him while shouting in Hebrew and Arabic, leading him to walk away before he was shot high in both legs.

Photographs taken during the incident showed soldiers appearing to pursue the fleeing boy, who had his eyes covered and his hands tied behind his back.

Video filmed shortly after the shooting then depicts frantic scenes as the teenager lays on the floor while Palestinian civilians remonstrate with an Israeli soldier.

A second soldier then points his handgun at a group of bystanders off camera, warning them they will also be shot if they do not stay away.

Palestinian news agency Wafa said the teenager was later treated at hospital in Bethlehem. It described his injuries as critical, saying a bullet had hit a main artery, causing heavy bleeding.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the teenager had been arrested after participating in “massive stone throwing” at its troops.

“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 added.

The statement did not comment on whether the boy was handcuffed or blindfolded, but said soldiers had offered medical treatment.

The boy’s father, Ali, said he was thankful a soldier had given his son medical care, but said “only a sick person would shoot a blindfolded boy” in the first place.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said the incident was the latest in a series of what it called “unjustified” shootings of Palestinian teenagers and young men.

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The group reported that four Palestinians in their late teens or early 20s have been killed in the West Bank since early March.

The army has challenged Palestinian witness accounts but also frequently announces investigations into disputed cases.

B’Tselem said such probes rarely result in punishment, and claimed they are 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 spokesperson for the group.

Additional reporting by AP

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