A Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in clashes that erupted during a Jewish pilgrimage to the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said Wednesday. The ministry identified the youngster as Ghaith Yamin, 16, who died of a head wound "after being shot by Israeli forces" during clashes near Joseph's Tomb, outside the northern city of Nablus. The Israeli army, which provides security for monthly pilgrimages to the site, said: "Hundreds of Palestinians took part in a violent riot as Jewish worshippers entered Joseph's Tomb, throwing stones and firebombs at the forces. "Soldiers responded with fire at a suspect throwing a firebomb. A hit was identified," it said in a statement. "In addition, gunshots were heard in the area." The Islamic Jihad militant group issued a statement praising the "ambush" its fighters prepared for Israeli forces securing the pilgrimage, saying there was an exchange of fire between the two sides. The Palestinian Red Crescent said its medics treated four people wounded by rubber bullets and 36 who inhaled tear gas, as well as one person who fell during the clashes. Tensions have been high in the West Bank for the past three months amid a wave of attacks on Israelis that led to arrests and clashes.
Nineteen people, mostly civilians — including 18 inside Israel and a Jewish West Bank settler — have been killed in attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs since late March.
Israeli security forces have responded with raids inside Israel and the West Bank, particularly in the flashpoint northern district of Jenin. Three Israeli Arab attackers and a police commando have died. Thirty-four Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank — suspected militants but also non-combatants, including a journalist who was covering a raid in Jenin and bystanders.
Israel has drawn significant international criticism for the shooting that left the journalist, Al Jazeera correspondent, dead on May 11, and over its security forces roughing up people during her funeral procession in Jerusalem.
Israeli officials said last week that they hadthat may have killed Abu Akleh, but that they could not be certain unless the Palestinians turn over the bullet for analysis. The announcement marked a small sign of progress in the investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh.
Palestinian officials, along with fellow journalists who were with Abu Akleh, have said Israeli troops stationed nearby killed her. The Israeli army says she was shot during a battle between troops and Palestinian gunmen, and it cannot be determined who fired the fatal bullet without a proper analysis.
Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians, who have the bullet, have refused, saying they don't trust Israel. They say they are conducting their own investigation and they are ready to cooperate with any country except for Israel.
An Israeli military official who spoke with the Associated Press last week stressed that while the source of the shot remained unclear, "we have narrowed down the IDF weapon that might be involved in the fire exchange near Shireen."