Palestinian teen killed by Israeli forces in protest, Palestinians say

© Reuters/RANEEN SAWAFTA Palestinians protest against Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers fatally shot a 15-year-old Palestinian on Friday during stone-throwing clashes in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, although the Israeli military said its forces had not used live fire.

The teenager was hit by a live bullet in his abdomen and was taken for treatment at a hospital in the Palestinian city of Ramallah where he later died, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers had used what she described as “riot dispersal means,” including the firing of rubber bullets, to confront dozens of Palestinians who were hurling stones at them and trying to roll rocks and burning tires at Israeli vehicles.

“The reports of live-fire use during the riot are not true, and claims about a number of rioters injured and one killed are known,” she said.

The Palestinian teenager was involved in a weekly protest against Israeli settlements at al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah, said Marzouq Abu Naeem, a village councilman. He said protesters were throwing stones at soldiers.

“This ugly crime is a war crime and a crime against humanity,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The United Nations’ Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was appalled by the killing. “Israel must swiftly and independently investigate this shocking and unacceptable incident,” he tweeted.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians, who have limited self-rule in the West Bank, say Israel’s settlements there will deny them a viable state and like many countries see the enclaves as an obstacle to peace and as illegal under international law.

Israel disputes this, citing security needs as well as biblical and historical ties to the land. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Dan Grebler, Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis)