Israeli army kills Palestinian teenager in occupied West Bank

A last farewell to Fulla Rasmi Abdelazeez Masalmeh (Ummah Today)

Zena al-Tahhan

Al-Jazeera  /  November 14, 2022

Fulla Rasmi Abdelazeez Masalmeh, 15, was shot and killed by the Israeli army while in a vehicle near the town of Ramallah.

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – The Israeli army has shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian girl in the town of Beitunia near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the victims as 15-year-old Fulla Rasmi Abdelazeez Masalmeh. “She was due to turn 16 on her birthday tomorrow. She was killed when occupation soldiers fired at her during a raid on Beitunia,” it said in a statement on Monday.

Palestinian officials initially wrongly identified the victim as a 19-year-old woman named Sanaa al-Tal.

According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, another Palestinian, 26-year-old Anas Hassouneh, was injured and arrested in the shooting.

Masalmeh, who was shot while she was in a car, hails from the town of al-Thahiriyeh south of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank.

News and images of the incident were circulated by local media at 4am (01:00 GMT), and her killing was confirmed several hours later.

witness told WAFA, that Masalmeh and Hassouneh were in a vehicle driving up a road, unaware that Israeli forces had stationed themselves at several points until they were surprised by the army’s presence.

“When they tried to turn around, they found other soldiers opposite them who started shooting at them without any notice,” the witness, who lives in the area, said, adding that the car was shot at three times by soldiers stationed on different corners as it tried to get away.

The witness added that Israeli soldiers pulled Hassouneh, who was driving the car, out of the vehicle and that he was bleeding, while Masalmeh died at the scene.

An Israeli army statement said soldiers spotted a “suspicious vehicle accelerating towards them during an operation by security forces”, according to Israeli media. The forces signalled for the vehicle to stop, but it accelerated towards them, after which they fired at the vehicle, the statement said.

Surveillance video shared widely on social media appeared to show the car slowly pulling up in the area before being shot at by soldiers stationed nearby. Al-Jazeera could not independently verify the footage.

Diaa Qurt, head of the Beitunia municipality, told Al-Jazeera that the Israeli army had raided the town, which lies west of Ramallah, to carry out arrests, during which confrontations broke out.

“These youth were in the car… The army was suspicious of the car, and then shot at the car,” Qurt said. “For them to be killed in the blink of an eye is a crime.”

The Israeli army, Qurt said, handed over the girl’s body to Palestinian medics, who transferred her to Ramallah’s public hospital.

He noted that the army had detained three Palestinian men from Beitunia on Sunday night.

“As an occupied Palestinian people, the Israeli army has the power to shoot and kill our youth even if they are only throwing rocks during confrontations. They also shoot at mere passersby or people in their cars,” he said.

The Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs on Monday called for “international measures to force the occupying state to stop its aggression against our people”, in response to the killing.

It said the “latest victim of this aggression was the girl who was martyred this morning in Beitunia”.

Israeli forces carry out raids and arrests across the occupied West Bank on a near-daily basis, as part of an attempt to crack down on armed groups operating in the Palestinian territory.

The army regularly shoots live ammunition during such raids, often leading to the killing or injury of residents, including uninvolved individuals.

So far in 2022, the Israeli army has killed 197 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, including 43 children. According to the United Nations, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank this year is the highest it has been in 16 years.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has noted in previous reports that Israeli forces “often use firearms against Palestinians on mere suspicion or as a precautionary measure, in violation of international standards”.

Zena al-Tahhan is Al-Jazeera English’s digital correspondent in Jerusalem

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian 15-year-old girl the day before her birthday

Leila Warah

Middle East Eye  /  November 14, 2022

Fulla Rasmi al-Masalma was shot in the head and left to bleed to death, Palestinians say.

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian girl on Monday in the occupied West Bank town of Beitunia, a day before her 16th birthday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Fulla Rasmi al-Masalma was shot in the head by Israeli troops during an army raid in Beitunia, west of Ramallah. 

She was the passenger in a car with another person who was wounded in the shooting.

The Israeli military said soldiers shot at a “suspicious” vehicle as it accelerated towards them and did not heed their call to stop. 

Eyewitnesses refuted the Israeli claim and said Masalma was denied medical attention, according to Ahmed Faraj, a spokesperson from the Beitunia municipality.

Faraj said there was “no way” the pair could have known there was a raid going on, and that they stumbled upon the soldiers by accident. 

“How could they know there were soldiers on that street? The military should have just stopped the car, but they shot at them without hesitation, not even checking to see who was inside. There was no warning shot,” Faraj told Middle East Eye. 

“They were shooting to kill, not to make them stop.” 

Faraj said the 15-year-old was denied medical attention and left to bleed for nearly 25 minutes, according to security footage and witness testimony. 

Israeli forces returned her body to the Palestinian ambulance service at approximately 6:30am in the morning. The wounded person who was in the same car is in Israeli custody. 

‘Kill for the sake of it’

Israeli forces have long been criticized for their “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians in cases where the victims did not pose an imminent threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers who then killed them. 

Rights groups say the policy amounts to “summary execution”.

Faraj said this was the case in Masalma’s shooting, which he said amounts to a “war crime”. 

“When the soldiers saw the car, they didn’t wait a single moment before shooting. It was caught on video,” he said, referring to CCTV footage purportedly from the scene showing the car slowing down before being targeted.  

MEE could not independently verify the footage. 

“The soldier didn’t even know who was in the car. They wanted to kill for the sake of it,” Faraj added.
 
The shooting on Monday morning happened during a raid-and-arrest operation by Israeli forces. 

Such operations occur on a near-nightly basis in the occupied West Bank and they often lead to the wounding or killing of Palestinians.

At least 138 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, have been killed in the West Bank this year, making it the deadliest on a monthly average for Palestinians since the UN began recording fatalities in 2005.

Leila Warah is a Palestinian freelance journalist based in the Bethlehem