A 15-year-old Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces last month in the occupied West Bank was merely trying to enter Jerusalem to pray when he was shot, a human rights group stated Monday.
Publishing the results of its investigation, Israeli NGO B'Tselem described the killing of 'Abdallah Gheith as an example of "egregious shootings" that "receive official backing".
On the morning of 31 May, the last Friday of Ramadan, seven members of the Gheith family set out from Hebron to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
With Israeli authorities barring entry to men aged 16-30, 'Abdallah and his cousin 'A. attempted to pass the Separation Wall some 700 metres from a checkpoint.
"The plan was that they would climb over the barrier and meet the rest of the family on the other side, as many Palestinians do", B'Tselem stated.
After 'Abdallah and 'A. climbed over the wire onto the buffer path, 'A. spotted a Border Police officer "standing on the other side of the main fence", so jumped back over the wire and shouted to 'Abdallah to flee. At that point, Israeli forces shot at 'Abdallah, hitting him in the chest.
'Abdallah's father, Luai, drove him to al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala, where the boy passed away.
"I raised my son for fifteen years, and I still can't believe that he was martyred in the blink of an eye", said Luai. "He didn't do anything wrong. He just wanted to get to al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan".
"He was daring and I think that's what got him killed. He was in a rush to get to al-Aqsa and didn't wait like the other young men", the father continued.
"'Abdallah was a good boy. He was cheerful and everyone loved him. He used to help me at work after school. He loved his family and was always joking around with his sisters. I can still see him cracking jokes with them and with my niece in the car that morning".
According to B'Tselem, "there can be no justification for this type of gunfire, with its predictably fatal consequences. It shows just how little the lives of Palestinians count in the eyes of both the officers in the field and the entire chain of command that allows such actions to take place".
"Based on past experience", the human rights group added, "no one…will be held accountable".