West Bank (The Inside Palestien)- Palestinian teenager succumbed to his wounds on Thursday morning, a day after he was shot in the head by Israeli forces in the northern occupied West Bank village of Beita in the Nablus district.
The teen, identified by Palestinian officials as 16-year-old Ahmed Shamsa, was shot with live ammunition during protests in the village against the establishment of a new Israeli settler outpost on “Jabal Sabih”, or Mount Sabih, on the outskirts of Beita.
Shamsa’s killing comes less than a week after Israeli forces killed another teenager in Beita, 15-year-old Mohammed Hamayel, during protests on Jabal Sabih.
According to locals, Shamsa is the fifth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in Beita since protests on Jabal Sabih began in early May. Shamsa is the ninth Palestinian youth to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year.
Palestinians in Beita have been staging daily protests on Jabal Sabih, which lies on the southern end of the village, since early May, after a group of Israeli settlers set up caravans on the mountain.
“We have been protesting every single day to send a message to the Israeli settlers and the occupation that we will not let them steal our land without a fight,” Ibrahim Dawoud, a local activist from Beita, told Mondoweiss.
“When we protest, we have nothing to defend ourselves against their guns except our bodies. And the Israeli occupation is killing us, simply because we are defending our land,” Dawoud said.
“They did not deserve to die,” Dawoud said, referring to the five Palestinians killed in Beita over the past month and a half.
“Did they not have hopes and dreams? Did they not deserve to have a future, where they could live in freedom?” he asked.
Since the first settlers arrived on Jabal Sabih, locals in Beita say that more than 60 caravans have been set up on the mountain, while the Israeli government has established water, electricity, and road networks for the settlers.
Photos being circulated on social media allege to show the rapid development of the “Eviatar” outpost over the past month, and the effects it has had on the natural environment on the mountain — which houses vast olive groves belonging to over a dozen families in the village.
A report from Haaretz showed that Israeli soldiers stationed in the area assisted in the construction of the outpost, and were photographed as helping the settlers carry the prefabricated homes onto the mountain.
Unlike Israeli settlements, which are pre-approved and subsidized by the Israeli government, Israeli outposts are “unplanned”, and are also illegal under Israeli law.
Despite this, the Israeli government rarely does anything to stop the construction of such outposts, and often assists in the development (i.e. providing water and electricity networks) and the retroactive legalization of the outposts.
According to Dawoud, the residents of Beita filed a lawsuit in Israeli court against the settlers in the Eviatar outpost, and are still waiting for a decision by the courts. But, he says they don’t have high hopes.
“The courts are all part of the same system of oppression. They work hand in hand with the settlers and the army to continue the oppression of the Palestinian people,” he said, pointing to the ongoing efforts to forcibly evict Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in Jerusalem.
“The crimes against the Palestinian people are happening every single day, in front of the world, but people are still silent,” he said. “The injustice and oppression is never ending. The world needs to act.”
Tensions rise amidst fragile ceasfire
On Wednesday Israeli forces also shot and killed a Palestinian woman, identified as 29-year-old Mai Afanah, near the town of Hizma, northeast of Jerusalem. Israeli forces claimed that Afanah attempted to ram soldiers with her car.
Both Afanah and Shamsa were killed among rising tensions in Jerusalem and the West bank, following the ultra-nationalist Israeli “Flag March” that took place in Jerusalem earlier this week, during which Israelis crowds chanted “Death to Arabs” among other racist, anti-Palestinian slogans.
The provocative march prompted Palestinian counter protests across Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, during which dozens of Palestinians were injured and arrested. In Gaza, Palestinians launched incendiary balloons over the Israeli imposed-border, setting multiple fires in southern Israel.
Several hours later in the early morning hours on Thursday Israeli forces launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, less than a month after a ceasefire was called, following the deadliest onslaught Gaza has seen in years.
Over the course of the 11-day offensive Israel killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children. At least 13 Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
Palestinian factions, including the Hamas movement, have warned that continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and across Palestine could reignite tensions as the fragile ceasefire struggles to remain in tact.