Palestinian teen killed by private security guard in West Bank

Boy might have been part of protest demonstration

July 09, 2005|By Henry Chu | Henry Chu,LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian boy was shot to death yesterday by a guard patrolling Israel's barrier in the West Bank, authorities said.

The teenager was killed following an afternoon of sometimes violent protest marking the first anniversary of an international court ruling that declared the controversial barrier illegal and ordered its dismantling.

There were conflicting accounts as to whether the youth, identified as Muheb Ahmed Assi, was involved in any demonstration when he was shot about 6 p.m. near the village of Beit Lakia, about five miles southwest of Ramallah.

Israeli radio said the guard opened fire because the boy was among a group of youths throwing rocks at the man's patrol, but Palestinian security sources said the youth was shot without provocation in an area where no protests took place.

Bullet wound to chest

Hospital officials said the teenager was dead on arrival with a bullet wound to the chest.

The guard, a member of the private security corps hired by the company building the separation barrier, was detained and his weapon confiscated by police, who are investigating the incident, radio reports said.

The death capped a day of scattered confrontations in the Palestinian territories.

Earlier, a demonstration against the barrier by about 200 people in the village of Bilin, about four miles north of Beit Lakia, ended with an Israeli soldier and border police officer slightly injured by hurled stones, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

Also, four soldiers riding in a military vehicle were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded along the southern border of the Gaza Strip, the army said.

Violence in the Mideast conflict has dropped in past months, owing to an informal cease-fire declared by Palestinian militias.

However, Israel has continued rounding up suspected militants, including in predawn raids yesterday that resulted in the arrests of six men described as members of the group Islamic Jihad in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Hebron.

Reduction in violence

The Israeli government attributes the reduction in violence - particularly in the number of suicide bombings, the last of which occurred in February - in part to the barrier, which it says prevents attackers from crossing into Israel.

Legal challenges in Israel have held up construction of the partition in some areas: Opponents have filed petitions arguing that the wall would unfairly restrict access by Palestinian farmers to their land.

A public feud erupted this week between Israeli defense officials, who accused the legal establishment of foot-dragging, and the Justice Ministry, which responded that it was working as quickly as possible to rule on the petitions.

Especially controversial is the barrier's route around Jerusalem, home to Israelis and Palestinians and claimed by both sides as their rightful national capital.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is eager to finish construction of the city's portion as soon as possible.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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