Accounts of Palestinian Teen's Death Differ

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Wajih al-Ramahi, 15, who was killed on Saturday, was buried at the Jalazun refugee camp cemetery, north of Ramallah, on Sunday. An autopsy was conducted early Sunday morning, but the results have not been published.

Eyewitnesses said the boy was shot in the back by an Israel Defense Forces sniper near a school in the refugee camp. He was taken to a hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead. The question is the circumstances under which he was shot, and the versions do not agree.

His friends from the refugee camp claimed that there were no clashes between children and IDF soldiers at the time al-Ramahi was shot, though eyewitnesses told Haaretz, B’tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that stones were being thrown at soldiers. IDF officials stated that the stone throwing began only after soldiers positioned themselves in an ambush “meant to catch stone throwers.”

Al-Ramahi was supposedly standing near the fence that spans the length of the refugee camp, on the western side of the old Route 60, just before 4:00 P.M. on Saturday. The Beit El settlement is on the eastern side of the road. An eyewitness who asked to remain nameless stated that he noticed two groups of children throwing stones from an orchard that spans the distance between an UNRWA school and a group of houses outside of the camp.

The orchard is located on the east side of the road, roughly 150 to 200 meters from an IDF guard post, and nearly 300 meters from the settlement houses. Another eyewitness stated that he heard “maybe 20” gun shots, which were not preceded by less lethal measures, such as tear gas or rubber-coated bullets, after which he noticed the group of children coming out of the small olive grove while carrying something in their hands.

IDF officials told Haaretz military correspondent Gili Cohen that “the IDF began an investigation this morning into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Palestinian youth shot in the back last night in the village of al-Jalazun.”

IDF officials also stated that soldiers from the Givati Brigade’s Tzabar battalion were stationed in the area, in an ambush meant to catch stone throwers. Children began to throw stones at the soldiers, as well as other Israelis nearby. According to reports from the squad leader, the soldiers initiated the protocols for apprehending suspects, and fired only into the air. The IDF is investigating whether or not the child was killed by gunfire.

A different version

But Al-Ramahi’s friends told a different version of the story on Sunday. They stated that they were playing soccer in a nearby schoolyard, after which they went to buy something at a local store. When they returned, they stated, they noticed four soldiers near the guard post, one of whom shot between four and six times, and their friend fell over.

Al-Ramahi’s family was notified that their son was injured at approximately 4:15 P.M, and he was pronounced dead one hour later at the hospital in Ramallah.

A relative, Ayman al-Ramahi, stated that their family is from the ruined village of al Mozriyah, near Lod, and that the family is known to support Fatah and the Palestinian authority. “We all support the Oslo agreements, peace. But what kind of peace is this?”

Wajih al-Ramahi’s father and grandfather have served time in prison due to their activism with Fatah. His father was in prison from 1977 to 1992. The IDF demolished two of the family’s houses, and sealed up two others. Ayman al-Ramahi also stated that between 2000 and 2008, two other members of the al-Rahimi family were killed by IDF gunfire, Mohammed Ahmed, 14-years-old, and Mohammed Jamal, 21-years-old. Wajih’s older brother is currently in custody and awaiting trial, and two of his cousins are also currently being held in Israeli jails.

Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah.Credit: Ana Kaplan
Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi.Credit: Ma'an

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