Palestinian Protester Killed by Israeli Army Fire, PA Health Ministry Says

Witnesses say Atef Hanaisheh, an imam at a local mosque, was shot in the head at close range by live fire during a protest in the West Bank against the establishment of an settler outpost

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A man holds a Palestinian flag stained with blood of a fatally wounded Palestinian in Beit Dajan, today.
A man holds a Palestinian flag stained with blood of a fatally wounded Palestinian in Beit Dajan, today.Credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

A Palestinian protester was killed on Friday by Israeli military fire east of Nablus, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The man, identified as 45-year-old Atef Hanaisheh, was shot in the head with live fire, according to the ministry's statement and to witnesses at the protest site in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan, during a weekly protest against the establishment of an unauthorized settler outpost nearby.

Witnesses said soldiers short him at close range, while the Israeli army claimed it a statement it had no information on what caused the protester's death.

One of the protest organizers, Nasser Abu al-Jish, said Hanaisheh was an imam at one of the community's mosques. According to him, he died while being transported to a hospital.

Relatives of Atef Hanaisheh mourn during his funeral in Beit Dajan, today.Credit: REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

A Reuters photographer said a group of Palestinians threw stones at two Israeli soldiers posted at the protest, and the soldiers then opened fire.

Hazem Hanini, one of the protest organizers, said the demonstration was a non-violent one. He said protesters were marching peacefully when three soldiers standing about 50 meters (about 160 feet) away opened fire without warning.

The Israeli military said that "dozens of Palestinian rioters hurled rocks" at its troops, who "responded with riot dispersal means and by firing into the air."

"We are aware of reports regarding a Palestinian casualty. The cause of the injury is still unknown. The incident is being examined," it said.

According to Hanini, soldiers usually fire tear gas canisters and smoke grenades at the weekly demonstrations, but this time used live fire. He argued the shooting had to be deliberate, saying there was no justification for it.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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