Palestinian teenager killed while protesting toddler's death in West Bank

Laith al-Khalidi, a Palestinian teenager, was shot in the chest during clashes with Israeli forces near a West Bank checkpoint.

Nasser Nasser/AP
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Laith al-Khaldi, during his funeral procession at the Jalazoun refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Aug. 1, 2015.

A teenager was fatally shot while protesting the arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler, marking the fifth fatal shooting by Israeli security forces in recent weeks. 

Israeli officials suspect Jewish settlers are behind the firebombing of a West Bank home, which the Israeli prime minister called an "act of terrorism." According to the UN, there had been at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers since the beginning of 2015, reports Al Jazeera.

Laith al-Khaldi was shot by Israeli soldiers Friday during a demonstration near Ramallah, The New York Times reports. He died from his wounds early Saturday, according to family members and residents. 

Al-Khalidi, of the Jalazon refugee camp, was shot in the chest during clashes with Israeli forces near the Atara checkpoint in the West Bank, according to AFP. There are varied reports on his age.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army told AFP that "a Palestinian suspect hurled a Molotov cocktail at an army post in Bir Zeit. In response to the immediate danger, the soldiers fired toward the assailant, identifying a hit.”

Khaldi was the fifth Palestinian killed by the Israeli security forces in recent weeks, as The New York Times reports: On Friday soldiers killed a Palestinian teenager in Gaza who appeared to have been trying to scale a fence into Israel; last Monday, a Palestinian youth was shot while trying to evade arrest; earlier in July, Israeli forces killed a 53-year-old Palestinian man while he was throwing objects at soldiers who were trying to arrest his son; and the day before, Israeli military forces shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian during a raid in northern West Bank.

Friday's demonstration, where Khalidi was fatally shot, was one of the many Palestinian protests in response to the firebombing of a house early Friday morning in the West Bank village of Duma. The arson attack killed an 18-month-old by, Ali Dawabshehm and severely wounded his 4-year-old brother and parents.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the terrorist attack that killed the Palestinian toddler "reprehensible and horrific" while adding that Israel's security forces had been ordered "to use all means to find the murderers.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization stated that it holds Israel's government "fully responsible" for the death of the toddler and will lodge a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to Al Jazeera.

Hundreds of Israelis gathered in a Tel Aviv square Saturday night to condemn the arson attack and show solidarity with the Palestinian family. Protesters held banners reading "enough incitement, enough violence" and called on the government to crack down on settler lawlessness in the West Bank. The slain child's uncle addressed the crowd, according to the Associated Press.

The death of children in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians has long been a concern for human rights organizations.

UN figures show that the 2014 Gaza-Israel conflict which began on July 8 and ended on Aug. 26, left 551 children dead.

In a paper published by Croatian Medical Journal in 2006, Joanna Santa Barbara, a child psychiatrist, says during a conflict, besides the possible physical injuries, children may be psychologically affected:

Children are exposed to situations of terror and horror during war – experiences that may leave enduring impacts in posttraumatic stress disorder. Severe losses and disruptions in their lives lead to high rates of depression and anxiety in war-affected children. These impacts may be prolonged by exposures to further privations and violence in refugee situations.

She adds that by taking actions such as implementing international humanitarian law regarding the protection of children in war, including children’s interests in peace agreements, and rehabilitating children affected by war, can help to mitigate some of the injuries to children.

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