The victim’s family, Zaid Saeed Ghoneim, said the young man had just had dinner and was on his way to his grandfather’s house when he was injured. His brother, Yazan Ghoneim, told CNN that his brother hid in a garage when Israeli soldiers surrounded him.
“They shot him twice in the legs, two in the back and one in the neck. They killed him,” Ghoneim told CNN at the family home. “He was my best friend. A beautiful and peaceful boy who wanted to help everyone.”
An eyewitness to the shooting, Umm Muhammad al-Wahsh, showed CNN a video she had taken immediately after the incident. In the footage, blood collects on the floor of a parking garage and is smeared over a car. According to Umm Muhammad, she saw Zaid Saeed Ghoneim running to the garage and heard him calling for his life.
“He shouted and kept saying, ‘I didn’t do anything! Don’t shoot me!’”
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Ghoneim was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds to the neck and back. Doctors could not keep him alive.
In a statement to CNN, the Israeli military said several soldiers in the Al-Khader area of Bethlehem were carrying out “routine security activities” in the area when “the suspects threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, endangering their lives.”
In pursuit of the attackers, soldiers responded with live ammunition and wounded one suspect, according to the IDF. The statement added that the soldiers present at the site provided primary medical care before transferring the injured to the Palestinian Red Crescent. The incident is now under review. The name of Zaid Saeed Ghoneim was not mentioned in the statement.
This is the second killing of a minor by Israeli forces in less than a week, following a series of raids across the West Bank. While covering one of these raids, Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in what the Palestinian attorney general described as an attack by Israeli soldiers.
Tensions in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are steadily rising. In March, a wave of Palestinian attacks killed 19 Israelis. In response, the Israeli army launched “Operation Breakwaters”, carrying out almost daily raids across the West Bank to arrest suspects. Since then, soldiers have arrested dozens of West Bank residents and have faced fierce resistance. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that at least 55 Palestinians died as a result of Operation Breakwaters.
According to the human rights organization B’Tselem, the Israeli military also implements a “fire policy” throughout the West Bank, which allows the use of live ammunition to respond to even minor security incidents, such as the occasional stone-throwing. B’Tselem said this policy led to a number of deaths, including two Palestinian boys who were shot dead in Bethlehem in February of this year.
CNN’s Abeer Salman reports from Bethlehem and Attica Schubert in Jerusalem.
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