Israeli army officer kills stone-throwing Palestinian teenager in West Bank

Palestinians carry the body of the 17-year old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli soldiers, during his funeral procession in the West Bank on July 3, 2015.
Palestinians carry the body of the 17-year old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli soldiers, during his funeral procession in the West Bank on July 3, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed a Palestinian youth who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Friday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

A Palestinian witness and an Israeli military spokeswoman said the Palestinian was among a group throwing stones at an army vehicle near Qalandiya, a major checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The witness said the army vehicle stopped and soldiers got out and fired at the youth, whom a hospital official in Ramallah identified as 17-year-old Mohammed Sami al-Ksbeh. The hospital official said Ksbeh had been shot in the head and chest.

The military spokeswoman said the Palestinian was hurling rocks at the vehicle from close range and that the soldiers inside were in immediate danger. She said warning shots were fired in the air before Ksbeh was shot at directly.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner confirmed that an Israeli colonel, a brigade commander in the West Bank, had shot Ksbeh. Israeli media published photos of the colonel's vehicle with a smashed windscreen, which they said was hit by the thrown stones.

While there is a widespread presence of Israeli troops and military police throughout the West Bank, it is rare for a senior officer to be involved in a shooting incident. The army said the military police was investigating the shooting.

It is the latest in a string of fatal incidents in the West Bank in recent weeks, with casualties on both sides. Tensions have escalated during Ramadan and in the run up to the anniversary of the war in Gaza last July and August.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, who seek a state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, broke down in April 2014 and there appears to be little prospect of them resuming any time soon.