A top United Nations official called for Israeli restraint after the IDF said it fatally shot a 14-year-old Palestinian while he was in the midst of throwing Molotov cocktails at civilian vehicles in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
"Gravely concerned by yesterday’s killing of 14-yr old boy by ISF [Israeli Security Forces] in Bethlehem," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Conflict Tor Wennesland.
"Children must not [be] the target of violence or put in harm's way. ISF must exercise [maximum] restraint [and] may use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life," he stated.
The IDF said that its forces on Wednesday night were near the village of al-Khader and identified three suspects in an area "where Molotov cocktails had been thrown recently at Israeli vehicles, endangering passengers on the road."
Soldiers "fired at one of the suspects while he threw a Molotov cocktail" and hit the suspects, the IDF said.
It added that its soldiers provided the suspect "with primary medical care on the spot" but were not able to save his life.
According to the Palestine News Agency Wafa, the teen was identified as Mohammad Shehadeh.
Palestinian activist Ahmad Salah said that Shehadeh was shot near an army security barrier. "The soldiers didn't give him any emergency aid. They left him bleeding on the ground. Then they brought an ambulance to take him," Salah said.
In the past, he said, the IDF has shot at children near that wall.
"There was an incident where the soldiers opened fire at kids who were playing in the area, which is close to their homes. As a result, one of the boys had his leg amputated," Salah said.
On Wednesday, Israel returned Shehadeh's body to his family with the help of the Red Crescent. According to WAFA, an autopsy will be held prior to his burial.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of Palestinians killed by the IDF in the West Bank over the last few years.
According to the UN, there were 24 such deaths in 2020 and 78 in 2021.
The IDF has also reported a hike in the number of Palestinian stoning and Molotov cocktail attacks against security forces and civilians in the West Bank.
According to the IDF, there were 4,002 stoning incidents in 2020 and 5,532 in 2021. Similarly, IDF data shows that there were 75 Molotov cocktail attacks in 2020 and 1,022 in 2021.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne'eman lauded the soldiers for killing Shehadeh.
"The IDF soldiers who killed the Arab trying to burn Jews alive did the right thing. If this trend continues, I am sure we will see fewer Molotov cocktails thrown in Gush Etzion in particular, and in Judea and Samaria in general. Thank you to our troops whose strength was justified.”