Monday, July 20, 2009

Gaza teen killed overnight identified

Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian teenager injured by Israeli fire on Sunday night was dead by Monday afternoon, according to the country's military.

Palestinian medial sources eventually identified the boy as 15-year-old boy Ahmad As-Samari.

He was taken to Soroka University Medical Center in the city of Beersheba late on Sunday in critical condition after having received chest injuries, and he died of his wounds there overnight, a hospital spokeswoman said.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the death to Ma'an. He said that soldiers who searched the Palestinian found that he was unarmed. The spokesman also said that soldiers had aimed at As-Samari's lower body, but could not confirm which part of his body was injured. The boy was also wearing a heavy jacket, unusual for the summer, the spokesman said.

Israel's army had previously stated that under interrogation the boy admitted intending to "infiltrate" the country, which if true would have been despite his chest injuries. The Soroka Hospital spokeswoman cast doubt on this claim, stating that the boy was unconscious by the time he arrived in Beersheba.

Gaza's Health Ministry told Ma'an on Sunday night that the boy was only moderately injured after being shot in the foot, and that after being arrested he was taken to Barzilai Hospital inside Israel. Other Hebrew reports said Barzilai, as well. The Jerusalem Post newspaper too reported that the boy was only moderately injured, quoting army sources, while other news outlets said he was shot in the leg rather than foot.

Israeli sources had reported that an Israeli military patrol spotted the boy approaching the electric fence in the northern Gaza Strip, shooting him when he refused to stop.

Israeli forces routinely patrol a "buffer zone" up to 500 meters wide along the Green Line, inside Palestinian territory. Palestinians who approach the border are often shot.