14-year-old Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces, Palestinian health ministry says

The family of victim Zaid Saeed Ghuneim said the teenager had just finished dinner and was on his way to his grandparents when he was shot. His brother, Yazan Ghuneim, told CNN his brother was hiding in a garage when Israeli soldiers cornered him.

“They put two bullets in his legs, two in his back and one in his neck. They murdered him,” Ghuneim told CNN at the family home. “He was my best friend. A lovely, peaceful boy who wanted to help everyone.”

An eyewitness to the shooting, Um Muhammad Al Wahsh, showed CNN a video she took immediately after the incident. In the footage, there is blood pooled on the floor of a parking lot and smeared on a car. According to Um Muhammad, she saw Zaid Saeed Ghuneim running in the garage and heard him pleading for his life.

“He was screaming and kept saying, ‘I didn’t do anything! Don’t shoot me!'” she told CNN.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Ghuneim was rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds to his neck and back. Doctors could not keep him alive.

In a statement provided to CNN, the Israeli military said several soldiers in the Al-Khader neighborhood of Bethlehem were carrying out “routine security activities” in the area when “suspects threw rocks and Molotov cocktails on the soldiers, putting their lives in danger”.

Pursuing the attackers, the soldiers responded with live ammunition, wounding one of the suspects, according to the Israeli army. The statement added that the soldiers provided initial medical treatment at the scene before transferring the injured to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The incident is now under investigation. The statement did not name Zaid Saeed Ghuneim.

This is the second killing of a minor by Israeli forces in less than a week, following a series of raids across the West Bank. While covering one of the raids, Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in what the Palestinian attorney general described as a targeted attack by Israeli soldiers.
Tensions continued to rise in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In March, a series of attacks by Palestinians killed 19 Israelis. In response, the Israeli army launched “Operation Breakwater”, carrying out almost daily raids across the West Bank to arrest suspects. Since then, soldiers have arrested dozens of West Bank residents and met with violent resistance. The Palestinian Ministry of Health claims that at least 55 Palestinians have died as a result of Operation Breakwater.

According to human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli forces also maintain an “open fire policy” throughout the West Bank, allowing the use of live ammunition to respond to even minor security incidents. such as isolated stone throwing. This policy resulted in several deaths, B’Tselem said, including two Palestinian teenagers gunned down in Bethlehem in February this year.

CNN’s Abeer Salman reported from Bethlehem and Atika Shubert from Jerusalem.

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