Palestinian teen succumbs to Israeli gunshot wounds

Muntaser al-Shawwa, 16, was severely wounded two weeks ago, with his family accusing the Israeli army of ‘shooting to kill’.

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – A Palestinian teenager has succumbed to Israeli army gunshot wounds he sustained two weeks ago during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health on Monday evening announced the death of Muntaser al-Shawwa, 16, adding that he was severely wounded when a “bullet pierced through his head from behind his ear”.

Al-Shawwa was shot during an overnight Israeli army raid on the Balata refugee camp in Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank on February 8.

The army had raided Nablus that day to secure a visit by Israeli settlers to the flashpoint site of Joseph’s Shrine inside the city, during which confrontations with Palestinian youth broke out in the area.

Al-Shawwa’s family told Al Jazeera that the 16-year-old was standing on the side of the road watching the raid when he was shot, and remained unconscious in the intensive care unit (ICU) for the past 13 days, before passing away on Monday.

“They come to our land and kill our children. Please tell me how a 16-year-old – a small child – both by age and size – can represent a ‘threat’ to Israel?” al-Shawwa’s uncle, Ibrahim Mashharawi, told Al Jazeera.

“In the camp when there are confrontations, all the youth go out to watch, because we are living in these conditions. It’s known that they are children, and the army can always shoot at the legs or lower limbs, but they shoot in order to kill,” Mashharawi said.

“The bullet entered from behind his ear and broke his entire jaw. Shortly after he got to the hospital, his brain failed and became fully paralysed. Only his heart was beating, while his brains were dead,” said Mashharawi.

[Translation: Death of the boy, Muntaser Muhammad Theeb Shawwa (16 years old), from injuries sustained two weeks ago by the occupation’s bullets in Balata camp]

Al-Shawwa is the 51st Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli army and settlers in as many days.

The teenager, who is also the 12th minor to be killed, was one of eight siblings. “He was very bright and very kind to his family, to his parents. They would depend on him a lot,” said Mashharawi.

Israel stepped up its military raids, arrests and killings in Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank from June 2021, following a popular Palestinian uprising known as the “May outburst” that swept Israel and the Palestinian territories it has illegally occupied since 1967.

In March 2022, following a series of individual Palestinian attacks inside Israel, the Israeli army launched a military campaign that led to 2022 being marked by the United Nations as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006.

Some 171 Palestinians, including more than 30 children, were killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank last year.

Civilians confronting the Israeli army during raids and uninvolved bystanders have also been killed, as well as Palestinian fighters in targeted assassinations and during armed clashes.

More than 50 other Palestinians, including 17 children, were also killed during a three-day Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip last August.

Local and international NGOs and rights groups have long condemned systematic Israeli “open-fire” and “shoot-to-kill” policies in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

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

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