Israel forces ‘shot, handcuffed and blindfolded me,’ Palestinian teen says

Apr 23,2019

Israeli rights group says four Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since early March; Israeli army claimed probes aimed to whitewash soldiers’ crimes.

Palestinian teen said on Monday he was shot in his thighs by Israeli soldiers after he was handcuffed and blindfolded in Palestinian farm near town of Taqu, south of Bethlehem.

The shooting took place on Thursday after a funeral for a school teacher in the village, who had been ran over by a truck driven by an extremist Israeli settler just after leaving her house.

Osama Hajahjeh said school was let out early for students to attend the funeral. After the burial, he said he was tackled by a soldier who jumped out of an olive grove and forced him to the ground.

He said that his hands were cuffed and his eyes covered with a cloth blindfold by the Israeli occupation soldiers. Then, he was arrested.

After the arrest, he said he could hear Palestinian youths shouting at the soldiers, while soldiers yelled back in Arabic and Hebrew.

"I got confused and stood up,” he said. "Immediately, I was shot in my right leg. Then I tried to run, and I was shot in my left leg and fell on the ground," he added, speaking from his hospital bed in the West Bank town of Beit Jala south of Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers prevent assistance

The shooting set off a chaotic scene. Soldiers and Palestinians shouted at each other as the teen lay on the ground. The Palestinians, including women, wanted to help the teen, while the Israeli soldiers aimed their guns and pistols towards them, trying to push them away.

A video went spiral on the internet shows a masked soldier screaming and pointing a pistol at a group of anguished Palestinians as the teen lies bleeding on the ground.

To justify its crime, the Israeli occupation army said in a statement that the teen had been arrested after participating in "massive stone throwing" at Israeli forces.

"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 said.

The statement did not say anything about him being blindfolded or cuffed, but claimed the military offered medical treatment after the shooting and was investigating the event.

Probes to whitewash Israeli army crimes

Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the incident was the latest in a series of unjustified shootings on Palestinian teens and young men.

B'Tselem says four Palestinians in their late teens or early twenties have been killed in the West Bank since early March.

As always, when Israel wants to bury its crimes, the Israeli occupation army challenged the Palestinian witness accounts, but also frequently announces investigations into disputed cases.

Such claimed investigations are always criticised by B'Tselem, which says they rarely result in punishments and stressed 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 spokesman for the rights group.

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