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Rights groups urge Obama to investigate Israeli killing of US citizen

A number of American human rights organisations have urged President Barack Obama to investigate the killing of a US citizen at the hands of Israeli occupation forces, warning that “an apparent unlawful killing of a US citizen abroad” risks going “unpunished”.

On 26 February, Mahmoud Shaalan, a 16-year-old Palestinian-American born and raised in Florida, was shot multiple times by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Beit El settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Seven months on, 15 human rights groups have written to the White House urging the Obama administration “to demand that Israel publicly release all evidence” related to the military’s internal investigation into the killing.

The Israeli army claimed Shaalan stabbed a soldier, but “eyewitness testimony contradicts this account.” After Shaalan was shot, “soldiers reportedly stripped his body, left him bleeding on the road for more than two hours and prevented a Palestinian ambulance from approaching.”

Media reports earlier this month said that Israeli authorities have already informed US officials that “they found no criminal wrongdoing by soldiers involved.” Israel has “not released any details or evidence collected from the investigation.”

The groups have also urged the US government to conduct its own investigation into the killing. “As Mahmoud Shaalan was a US citizen,” the letter states, “the US government has a particular responsibility to ensure that a thorough, proper and impartial investigation is conducted.”

“As the largest supplier of weapons, munitions and security equipment to Israel, the US government bears the added responsibility of verifying that no US supplied arms were used in an unlawful killing.”

The letter’s signatories include Amnesty International USA, Centre for Constitutional Rights, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society and US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

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