Two Palestinian Teens Killed in West Bank Clashes With IDF

Army says soldiers were fired at when they arrived at the scene of a rock-throwing incident near Jenin; family denies allegations.

File Photo: An Israeli soldier aims towards Palestinian protesters throwing stones during clashes in the village of Qabatiya, near the West Bank town of Jenin, on February 6, 2016.

Two Palestinians were killed by the Israel Defense Forces in an exchange of fire north of Jenin on Sunday morning.

A reserves force arrived at the West Bank separation barrier near the village of Araka, the army said, after a lookout identified stone-throwing in the area. According to the army's report, the reserve soldiers were fired at when they arrived on the scene.

Soldiers reported that one of the Palestinians was armed with a makeshift weapon and another was carrying a knife.

"Two assailants hurled rocks at cars near Jenin. Forces arrived and were fired upon by [an] assailant. [The] soldiers responded and shot [the] attackers," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.

None of the soldiers were wounded in the incident.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the casualties as Nihad Wakid and Fuad Wakid, both 15 and residents of Araka.

The Israeli army handed the teens' bodies over to the Red Crescent. The bodies were being transferred to the Jenin Government Hospital, the Red Crescent said.

The two were laid to rest in Araka in the afternoon, with hundreds attending the funeral procession. Their families vehemently denied the army's claim they had fired at the soldiers and said the two were roaming farming lands owned by the family that are adjacent to West Bank barrier fence.

Mussa Wakd, their uncle, told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that the two were on their way to school when the incident happened, and claims the two were shot because of their proximity to the fence. He said the family does not believe they had access to the makeshift firearm. Furthermore, he said they had received witness accounts that said one of the two was even run over by an IDF vehicle.

Abu Anasar, a teacher from Araka who knows the two and their families, told Haaretz that he and many in the community are skeptical of Israel's version of events. "I know the families and the two youths, these are not families that deal with arms or have access to arms. These are just kids and to attribute an attempted shooting to them sounds highly unlikely or believable."

Also Sunday, a cell phone-operated explosive device was discovered on the road leading to Mount Ebal, in the northern West Bank near Nablus. Sappers were working to neutralize the device in a controlled detonation.

On Saturday, four Border Police officers were lightly wounded in a suspected car-ramming attack on the road leading from Jerusalem to the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Earlier Saturday afternoon, a Palestinian woman attempted to stab an Israeli soldier in Hebron. She was shot and killed at the scene.