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.
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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.
A 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.
فيديو| تغطية صحفية: "لحظة إطلاق قوات الاحتلال النار تجاه مركبة وإصابة ركابها خلال اقتحام بلدة بيتونيا غرب رام الله، فجر اليوم". pic.twitter.com/q5w992j7Oh
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) November 14, 2022
[Translation: “Media coverage video: The moment occupation forces fired at a vehicle and injured its occupants, during a raid on Beitunia, west of Ramallah, at dawn today.”]
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”.
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”.