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Thousands partake in funeral march in Ramallah for slain Palestinian teen

April 11, 2017 5:43 P.M. (Updated: April 12, 2017 4:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thousands of Palestinians marched through Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank for the funeral of 17-year-old Jassem Muhammad Nakhla on Tuesday, a day after the teen succumbed to wounds he sustained on March 23 when he was shot by Israeli forces.

Nakhla died in an Israeli hospital in Tel Aviv after Israeli forces shot him in the head and foot when he was in a vehicle with three other young Palestinians, who the Israeli army accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, located next to al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah city.

One of the other youths, 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, died that day, while the two others, Muhammad Hattab, 18, and Muhammad Moussa Nakhla, 18, were also seriously wounded.

Medical sources told Ma’an on Monday that Nakhla had been clinically dead since he was injured, and had been kept on life support since.

The funeral set off from the Palestine Medical Center, where mourners carried Nakhla’s body, wrapped in the Palestinian flag, through the main streets of Ramallah and finally to al-Jalazun.

Nakhla’s body was taken to his family house in the refugee camp, where family members said their final goodbyes before the teen’s body was taken to the camp’s mosque and then to the camp’s cemetery for burial.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Tuesday that it held the Israeli government responsible for Nakhla’s death, with PA spokesman Tariq Rishmawi writing in a statement that Israel was perpetuating its "successive crimes" against the Palestinian people and turning a blind eye to international law.

"This crime won't be the last as long as the international community remains silent," Rishmawi said of Nakhla’s death.

Rishmawi urged the international community and human rights organizations to coerce Israel into ceasing its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people, especially children. The PA also denounced Israel's "systematic assault" against Palestinians.

The circumstances of the shooting of the al-Jalazun teens have been highly contested. An Israeli army spokesperson had claimed that the boys were throwing Molotov cocktails at Beit El settlement, and that the four were outside of their car when they were shot.

However, locals told Ma'an at the time that Israeli soldiers in a military tower near the entrance of al-Jalazun fired heavily towards the teens’ vehicle while they were still inside the vehicle, with video and photographic footage taken by locals at the scene following the shooting showed the car riddled with bullets, windows shattered, and blood staining the seats.

When questioned by Ma’an in March about how the teens could have re-entered their car and driven away from the scene after being injured with multiple rounds of live fire to the head and chest, the Israeli army spokesperson said she could not comment.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about Nakhla’s passing, nor about whether an Israeli investigation into the shooting had yielded any results.

Nakhla is the 18th Palestinian to be confirmed killed by Israeli forces this year, and marked the sixth time that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor since the beginning of 2017, according to Ma'an documentation.

In all instances when Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian minor this year, the Israeli army claimed that the teenagers were throwing Molotov cocktails.

However, the Israeli versions of events have been heavily contested. Similar to the al-Jalazun case, video evidence and investigations led rights groups to brand the killing of 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour in January as unlawful and unjustified.

Activists and rights groups have long denounced what they have termed a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israelis who committed the killings.
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