Last updated: 13 December, 2012

Thousands mourn Palestinian teen killed in Hebron

Israeli forces shot and seriously wounded a 16-year-old Palestinian on Thursday in Hebron, medics said, as thousands mourned the death of another teenager killed by Israeli forces.

Medical officials told AFP that Nasser Sharabani was undergoing surgery in a Hebron hospital after being hit in the chest by gunfire.

They did not know the circumstances of the shooting, but the West Bank city has been rocked by protests since Mohamed Ziad Salayma, also 16, was shot dead on Wednesday evening at an Israeli checkpoint in Hebron.

An Israeli army spokesman said that troops shot at a person about to throw a petrol bomb at a military position.

“Soldiers at the scene… fired towards him,” he said. “The Palestinian was evacuated by the Red Crescent to a hospital for further treatment.”

Palestinian medical officials said that since Thursday morning a total of 90 Palestinians were treated after clashes with Israeli forces — 68 suffering from tear gas inhalation, 21 injured by rubber bullets and Sharabani.

Israeli police said Salayma, who died on his birthday, was shot after threatening border policemen in the city with a weapon, which turned out to be a toy.

“A young Palestinian man approached a post manned by border guards. One of them asked him for his identity card. The Palestinian attacked him, brandishing a gun that he aimed at the head of the border guard,” a police spokeswoman said.

“Another border guard who was nearby opened fire killing the Palestinian,” she added. In TV interviews the border policewoman who shot Salayma said she fired six shots into him.

The police spokeswoman said bomb disposal experts later discovered that the teenager’s “pistol was a toy made of metal.”

Clashes erupted after Salayma’s death, and continued throughout Thursday.

Salayma’s funeral was attended by around 2,000 people, an AFP correspondent said.

Salayma’s uncle, Nasser, told AFP that the Israeli version of his nephew’s death was “a fabrication.”

“The plastic gun story isn’t true and it is all fabrication,” he said. Other relatives said Salayma was on his way to buy a birthday cake when the incident took place.

“Yesterday was his birthday and he celebrated it at school and was going to celebrate at home, but it never happened,” Nasser al-Salayma said.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said its preliminary investigations showed Israeli forces “at the checkpoint were detaining a child, who had a plastic pistol” as Salayma approached.

When he reached the checkpoint, an Israeli border policewoman “fired at him from a close range… he was hit by three bullets,” the group said.

After the incident, Palestinian activists identified the border policewoman and posted pictures of her on social media networks.

Israeli activists also posted pictures of the woman, praising her actions, as she told the Jerusalem Post daily she had no qualms about the incident.

“For me it was a real pistol in every sense of the word pointed at my soldier and it’s my responsibility to act, because if I don’t kill him my friend will be killed, and I won’t let this happen,” she said.

“I’m happy this ended with no injuries on our side and I’m sure any other officer in my situation would have done what I did.”

In July 2007, Israeli forces shot at two Palestinians apparently carrying weapons, killing one. They later discovered the man killed in the incident was holding a fake M-16.

There have been multiple attacks against soldiers in Hebron, one of the tensest cities in the West Bank, where a group of rightwing Israeli settlers lives in a heavily guarded enclave inside the Palestinian city.