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Tension Flares in the West Bank as Two Palestinian Teenagers Are Fatally Shot

Violence continues to escalate in West Bank and Jerusalem as two Palestinian teenagers are killed in clashes with the Israeli army in just 36 hours.
October 5, 2015, 5:49pm
Photo by Abed Al Haslhamoun/EPA

Two Palestinian teenagers have been shot dead in just 36 hours as violent clashes between protesters and Israeli soldiers continue following a week of bloodshed on both sides of the conflict.

Abdul-Rahman Obeidallah, 13, reportedly died in Beit Jala hospital early on Monday afternoon after being shot in the chest with a live round near Aida camp in northern Bethlehem after protests became violent. Eyewitnesses claimed that the young boy was not involved in the protests but was caught in the crossfire as he returned home from school.

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Clashes also broke out on Monday near the West Bank cities of Hebron and Ramallah.

In a separate incident on Sunday night, 18-year-old Hudhayfah Ali Suleiman was shot in the upper body during clashes with Israeli troops at a checkpoint near the city of Tulkarm in northern West Bank. The teenager later died in the operating theatre.

Commenting on the teenagers' deaths NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was a "red flag for the Israeli army to revise its rules of engagement to comply with international law."

Related: Israeli Soldiers Mobilize in West Bank After Two Settlers Are Shot

"The death of a child at a demonstration in which Israeli security forces fired live bullets raises serious concerns about excessive use of force," Sari Bashi Director for Israel and Palestine at HRW told VICE News. "Today's shooting death comes on the heels of the killing of another teenage protestor."

In late September, Israel's security cabinet pushed through a tough package of measures that included a relaxation of the rules of engagement for the police and army. Under the new directives, security forces can now use .22 caliber live rounds from Ruger rifles when they judge that their own lives, or those of civilians, may be in danger.

The Palestine Red Crescent has reported that at least hundreds of people have been injured during clashes with settlers and the IDF this weekend, including 36 by live gunfire. The humanitarian aid organization also said that it had declared a level three state of emergency after 14 attacks on its staff and ambulances in the last 72 hours.

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According to local media reports the Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Monday that soldiers had opened fire on agitators throwing rocks at a demonstration near Aida camp on Monday where Obeidallah was killed.

The young boy's death comes less than 24 hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Facebook vowing a "harsh offensive on Palestinian Islamic terror" and warned the country was embroiled in an "all-out war." Netanyahu also said he had ordered "additional steps… to deter and punish attackers."

Four Israelis have been killed in terror attacks over the last four days and several others wounded. On Thursday night, Eitam and Naama Henkin were gunned down in front of four of their children while driving past Beit Furik, a Palestinian village in West Bank.

Tensions have also flared in Jerusalem, where much of the unrest has centered on the city's most sensitive holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Related: Palestine Leader Scraps Oslo Accords with Israel as Flag Goes Up

On Saturday, an ultra-Orthodox family was stabbed in Jerusalem's Old City while on their way to pray at the Western Wall. Two men were fatally injured in the attack, and a 22-year-old woman and her two-year-old son were hospitalized with their injuries.

Following the stabbings, Israeli authorities barred most Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday and Monday and restricted access to the Temple Mount to Muslim men over 50, with no age restriction on women.

Raising fears of a further escalation in violence on Sunday, Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group, released a video threatening to renew suicide attacks against Israel.