Killing of Palestinian Youth in Bethlehem Was 'Unintentional,' Preliminary IDF Inquiry Finds

Probe concludes Abed a-Rahman Abdallah was hit by an Israeli bullet, but apparently the target was an adult standing next to him.

Amos Harel
Amos Harel
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The body of Abed a-Rahman Abdallah is carried through Aida refugee camp before his burial on Tuesday.Credit: Reuters
Amos Harel
Amos Harel

The death of a 13-year-old Palestinian youth near Bethlehem on Monday was the result of a mistake by the Israel Defense Forces units at the scene, a preliminary investigation has concluded.

The investigation was conducted by the IDF's central command, which is responsible for the West Bank.

The boy, Abed a-Rahman Abdallah, was hit by a bullet from a Ruger rifle, a low-velocity, .22 caliber weapon that is considered less lethal than standard rifles. The Ruger is increasingly used by IDF snipers during stone-throwing confrontations.

A senior IDF officer described Abdallah's death as "unintentional." Apparently, the target of the fire was an adult standing close to Abdallah. He said that the military was trying to minimize the number of Palestinian casualties. However, he added, that Israeli soldiers encountered heavy violence in the clashes in recent days, in which firebombs and explosions were used, and there was no alternative to using live fire. 

The IDF stressed that the two incidents in which live fire was used and Palestinian youths killed over the past two days, in Bethlehem and Tulkarem, were both especially violent, with fire bombs and explosives deployed against the soldiers.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Abdallah was hit in the chest by a single bullet during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops and evacuated to the Beit Jalla hospital in a critical condition. He died soon after from his wounds.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said initially that Israeli forces did not use live fire during the clash. However, the preliminary inquiry came to the opposite conclusion. 

The Palestinian factions declared a general strike on Tuesday in Bethlehem to mourn the youth's death.

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