Palestinian-American Teen Killed by IDF Gunfire During West Bank Protest

According to the military, the boy was about to throw a firebomb toward Route 60.

A Palestinian protester burns an Israeli flag during clashes with Israeli troops
A Palestinian protester burns an Israeli flag during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest against the Jewish settlement of Ofra, in the West Bank village of Silwad, September 19, 2014. Reuters

A Palestinian-American teenager was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, Friday afternoon, during clashes that erupted in a protest held there weekly.

According to the military, the boy, 14, was about to throw a firebomb towards Route 60; an IDF unit positioned nearby opened fire after he had lit the firebomb's fuse, and was preparing to hurl it. Palestinian officials denied these claims.

A relative identified the teen as Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad and said he was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank at age six. Hammad's cousin Moath said he was among a group of Palestinians who were throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

An Israeli army spokesman told Reuters Israeli forces "managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail at them on the main road next to Silwad. They opened fire and they confirmed a hit."

The military said it would investigate the shooting, which occurred amid other clashes in Arab areas in and around Jerusalem in which several people were lightly injured.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for a "speedy and transparent investigation."

"The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24," Psaki said.

She added that U.S. officials would remain "closely engaged with the local authorities, who have the lead on this investigation."

Residents of Silwad said that the teen was the cousin of Ta'er Hammad, who carried out a sniper attack that killed 10 Israelis in Wadi al-Haramiya, near the Shilo settlement in 2002. The teen's uncle, Nabil Hammad, is said to have been killed in the first intifada. 

Hammad is the second teen to be killed by army fire in eight days. A 13-year-old was killed last week in a West Bank village.

Another 12 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes on Friday, a hospital official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

The Israeli military said soldiers "prevented an attack" by opening fire on a Palestinian who was throwing fire-bombs at traffic on a highway Friday evening.

A man kisses the face of Palestinian boy Orwah Hammad at a hospital morgue
Reuters

Tensions have been high since June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Jewish extremists retaliated by kidnapping and killing a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem, sparking riots. The kidnappings set off a series of events that led to the 50-day Gaza war.

Earlier this week a Palestinian drove his car into a Jerusalem train station, killing a 3-month-old baby -- who was a U.S. citizen -- and wounding eight other people. Police called Wednesday's crash a terror attack.

The car's driver, identified as Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, was a Palestinian from east Jerusalem who had served time in prison for militant activities. He was shot by police as he tried to run away and later died from his wounds.

The last few months have also seen clashes at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli police, adding to the tensions.