Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the southern West Bank on Wednesday, sources on both sides told AFP.
A Palestinian security source named the victim as 15-year-old Yussef Sami Shawamreh and said he was shot dead near the barrier southwest of Hebron.
Witnesses said the victim had been foraging for local plants when he was shot, but the army claimed he and two others had been vandalising the security fence.
The security sources initially told AFP the shooting took place near the Al-Ramadin village, but witnesses said it happened in Deir al-Asal al-Tahta, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) southwest of Hebron.
The Israeli army claimed troops had fired at Palestinians trying to damage the barrier.
“Earlier today three suspects sabotaged the security fence in Deir al-Asal al-Tahta,” a spokeswoman told AFP, saying troops had verbally warned them away from the area then fired warning shots in the air.
When that did not work, troops “fired towards the lower extremities of the main instigator,” she said, confirming he was hit and taken to an Israeli hospital “where he died of his wounds.”
But the victim’s brother, Abed Shawamreh, 23, denied the army’s account and said the teenager had been out looking for gundelia, a thistle-type plant used in cooking.
“Every year, people from the village go out to pick gundelia. Today Yussef went with his friends to pick some in an area close to the wall and the army shot at them. They hit him and arrested two of his friends,” he told AFP.
Israel’s vast separation barrier which cuts through the West Bank is in some parts a towering concrete wall, while in others it is a tangle of barbed wire fencing.
Israelis refer to it as the security fence, while the Palestinians have branded it the “apartheid wall”.