Second Palestinian Teenager Shot by Israeli Army Within Hours

18-year-old boy brain dead after being shot in head

Ni'ilin, The West Bank - Israel's army shot an 18-year-old Palestinian in the head in the West Bank town of Ni'ilin, just hours after the village buried a 10-year-old who had also been shot in the head by a soldier.

Eyewitnesses said the 18-year-old, Ahmed Yousef Amirah, was shot at close range when a military jeep drove past and an officer fired three rubber bullets at him from within the vehicle.

It is the third incident this month in which Israel's military appears to have deliberately targeted a resident of Ni'ilin, where protests against Israel's West Bank barrier and violent clashes occur almost daily.

Amirah was shot around 7.30pm, around four hours after 10-year-old Ahmed Moussa was buried in the village cemetery next to his parent's house.

Fighting erupted soon after the funeral when teenage boys used sling shots to fire stones at border police who had blocked one of two entrances to Ni'ilin during the burial.

The battle between the youths and the border police raged for several hours, wounding three border policemen as well as Amirah, who is in a hospital in Ramallah and is not expected to survive. Doctors have declared him brain dead.

At the beginning of the funeral procession, which made its way through the village after Moussa's body had been brought back from Ramallah where it was sent for an autopsy, Israeli military forces fired tear gas at the convoy, intensifying the anger in Ni'ilin.

Ni'ilin's residents said Amirah was not participating in the fighting but standing outside a house watching from a distance.

But a spokesman for Israel's border police said it was unclear who shot Amirah.

However, the border police will not investigate. "It's not our responsibility to investigate things like that," the spokesman said.

"The violence of the people there, it's their responsibility. They have to know that if they are going to be there, it's not good for them and it's not good for us," he said.

But Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said the use of excessive force against protesters was a breach of international law and the military's own policies.

"In this situation, even so-called less lethal crowd control weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas have strict limitations on their use. Rubber bullets can be lethal when fired from less than 40 metres away," said B'Tselem's communications director, Sarit Michaeli.

The military's excessive use of force in the village was exposed last week when B'Tselem published a video showing a soldier shooting, at close range, the foot of a Palestinian man, who was blindfolded and cuffed.

Security forces loyal to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, detained around 15 Hamas sympathisers in Nablus today, including four lecturers at al Najah university. One prisoner, Raed Nairat, an assistant professor of political science, was beaten so heavily that he was taken to hospital, according to friends.

"The mukhabarat [intelligence services] appear to have hit him repeatedly. They transferred him to a hospital under a false name so his family would not be alerted, but a friend recognised him. We think they will take him back to prison. He is very sick," a Nablus resident told the Guardian.

The latest arrests bring to almost 200 the number of Hamas supporters arrested in the last few days in Nablus. Others were detained in other West Bank towns and villages in the biggest clampdown by Abbas's Fatah movement on Hamas for a year.

The arrests coincide with the publication this week of reports by al-Haq, an independent Palestinian monitoring group, and Human Rights Watch, accusing Fatah and Hamas of routinely torturing detainees from the other side.

(c) 2008 The Guardian

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